Unfortunately, it doesn’t describe where the political world stands (no surprise). But it does describe a cool new website and a beautifully laid-out and informative digital magazine.
Brink of Freedom is a great place. It combines a freedomista attitude, high energy, and useful self-sufficiency how-tos.
Michael W. Dean of Freedom Feens turned me on to the site and introduced me to its founder, Josiah Wallingford. (Don’t you love that name?)
Go check it out for yourself. It’s the kind of place you could spend hours. But while you’re here, here’s a little background Q&A with Josiah, as well as links to pdfs of BoF’s January and February editions:
As soon as I post this, I’m going to make Thursday’s “bad” post public again. If clever people and hobby-horse riders want to make the comment section All About Them, that’s on their heads, not mine.
Your encouragement, good cheer, and wisdom delivered via email and via comments on yesterday’s apology post helped me get over myself.
(The irony was not lost on me that I squealed like a little girl over comments on a post titled “Live Boldly.” It was amazingly nice of y’all not to mention that. :-) )
I’m still going to take a week off. I need it. Whether I’ll resume with “Live Boldly, Part II” or not, I can’t say. Slidemansailor was astute when he noted that sometimes the moment for something just passes. However, I’d like to take up that topic again if I can find the proper footing to begin.
Meanwhile, here are some links for you, along with my thanks:
Roscoe Bartlett. He’s much more interesting as an off-grid hermit than he ever was as a congressthing.
We’re finally reaching the long-dreaded day when the fedgov plays a dominant role in who “wins” and who loses in U.S. economic life. The trend’s been going on since the (not-so) Great Society. When it reaches fruition … there will be only losers outside the political nomenklatura.
Commonsense about polygamy is finally appearing in the mainstream. (No, I don’t think government should be involved, but otherwise, this is good stuff.)
If you want to live innovatively off-grid, maybe it’s best not to do it in a city. Or at least not to talk about it if you do. (H/T H.)
That Texas “affluenza” brat who killed four people and turned one of his friends into a vegetable may not have to pay any consequences for his actions. But his parents might.
The courts might never stop the NSA’s outrages (despite hopeful rulings to the contrary). Congress? They never, ever, ever will. But the collaborating companies like Google, Yahoo, IBM, Verizon, etc. might eventually have to stop the NSA or die an economic death. Now shareholders are upping the pressure.
The author of The Anarchist Cookbook, having made all the money off it that he personally needs, now wants the book banned. I doubt it’s going to happen, but you might want to get your copy, just in case. You do know, though, that you’re more likely to hurt yourself with the recipes in that book than you are to hurt anybody else. (H/T B.)
Ever since Pamela Jones shut down Groklaw and announced she was not only abandoning the site but quitting the Internet entirely in light of the Edward Snowden revelations, I’ve been thinking about this.
At the time, though I found her reasons poignant and pertinent, I thought she was overreacting. Now, I don’t know.
Personally, I’m not on the verge of quitting. A big part of my life is here. And all of my career (such as it is) is here. That’s been true since 1986 when a client bought me my first 300-baud modem and set it up so I could electronically submit stories to him. It was certainly true in 1993 when I met my Significant Sweetie (now ex, but still friend) on a FIDOnet gun-rights bulletin board. It’s definitely true now when I’d likely starve to death and blow away without the ‘Net.
Still, I think most of us (and most notably a lot of tech types hereabouts) feel the temptation.
We’ve always been independent sorts around here. We avoid being messed with by power trippers. If we can’t avoid, we “mess back.” But right now, there’s nothing we can do to counter the electronic offenses being committed against us and against freedom by the UberGoverment whose all-probing eye peers out from Mordor on the Potomac.
Oh, sure, we can play the old “keyword” game with our emails. (There’s even a new Firefox/Chrome browser add-on to let us do the same thing with URLs and HTTP headers now.) That’s fun. And it’s always true that irritating and misdirecting the bastards is worthwile, even (or perhaps especially) as tyranny grows. We can also use GPG, dump Windows for Linux, use TOR, etc. etc. etc. And eventually heroic tech wizards may save us — and the Internet — from NSAuron.
But now …? Now …? Now we seem to be faced with using dodges that may or may not help or simply shrugging and going on because, realistically, there’s not much else to do. So …
Would you quit the Internet? If so, what would you do instead? If not, how do you adapt to knowing that everything you do online (or on the phone) is probably recorded and analyzed, even if it then disappears into the maw of a datacenter’s godzillabyte storage capacity, never to be seen again?
Now, that said, I’m “quitting the Internet” for the next three days. I may pop in to post some cute dog pictures tomorrow, and I’ll check in to moderate comments at least once a day. Otherwise, I’m away for a bit from the Bad News Net.
Besides describing in good and useful detail how to build an ad hoc solar power system (Joel created his for just $350), it describes how not to do it (e.g. don’t do it like Joel did with the first system he scrounged together). It also shows larger, more professional systems created by five of his desert-rat neighbors.
As you may know, Joel and I were desert neighbors for a while. During that time, I helped redesign one badly built power system (with tons of help from people smarter and more experienced than I) and I accompanied Joel through the beginnings of his own first experiments in solar power.
So I know that this book is accurate and lucid in what it describes. If you have a weekend place, a retreat-on-a-budget location, an RV that you want to retrofit for solar — or anything else that might use a small, DIY solar power setup — Joel’s little book could help.
Joel is careful not to call himself any sort of expert. But he’s definitely been there and done that.
Better yet, the book is well-written, well-organized — and often very funny. If you like the pithy, irreverent way Joel writes on his blog, you’ll enjoy the book even if (like me now) you live in a place where people have to look “sun” up on Wikipedia to remind ourselves that it’s that big yellow blob that other lucky people have in their sky.
This was a week for getting reminded of unconventional freedoms — and unconventional Outlawry (though some might call it just plain criminality).
First, we got fascinated with Christopher Knight (aka the Maine Hermit), whose solitary life some found irresistible. Imagine speaking only one word to another human in 27 years and sleeping outdoors through 27 northern winters. Imagine doing that, yet remaining so un-resourceful that you think stealing from a camp for handicapped kids is a legitimate way to survive.
Then yesterday afternoon, NPR interviewed Mike Brodie — not their usual sort of book author. At 27, Brodie is a freelance auto mechanic who disdains any claim to thinking of himself as a writer or photographer. But at 17, he started hopping freight trains, taking along a Polaroid camera. Now he’s published A Period of Juvenile Prosperity, a photo memoir of that Outlaw life.
Most of us are more respectful of property than the Maine Hermit and more settled than Mike Brodie’s friends. But tell the truth: Do you envy them a bit? Do you sometimes wish you could just walk away from the life of earning and spending and getting, the life of being responsible, filling out paperwork and carrying credit cards and IDs? Do you sometimes long even to give up some of your comforts? Do you think you could do it in the future? Or have you done something like that in your past?
I’m not asking if you’re ready to chuck it all, or if you approve of train-hopping hoboes or thieving hermits. Just wondering if you ever feel the urge, ever acted on it — or ever might.
The first rule of living on the edge is this: You’re in charge. You’re responsible. If something goes wrong, nobody’s going to come and fix it for you. There’s no point grumbling and waiting for the guy with the wrench, because the guy with the wrench is you.
That brings things to a very basic and vital level. I used to be consumed with worry over things like who was undermining me at the office, or how badly a customer was going to screw me on draft revisions, or how to deal with the next-door neighbor who played his piano at 3 AM and drove my wife crazy. Seriously, I used to brood over things like that. Now I wonder if the chickens will lay enough eggs tomorrow. I worry about the state of my stovepipe. Will the water freeze? Will coyotes take my kitten? Will I have enough firewood?
There are two major differences between the old worries and the new ones. First, the new set of worries are worth worrying about. Those are things that can actually do harm to me and mine. Second, they’re all things I can do something about. I can get more chickens, or kill or separate the one that’s upsetting the others. I can clean the damn stovepipe more often, insulate the pipes more heavily, go out and cut more firewood. Zoe’s pretty much on her own – though she’s napping happily right next to me as I write this.
Those old quotidian worries used to make me very unhappy, because I was always dependent on other people for their solution and I felt helpless against them. Now I’ve got worries about things that can actually hurt me, but they don’t make my unhappy because I can get off my ass and do something about them any time I need to.
Joel over at The Ultimate Answer to Kings (now at its own domain name, joelsgulch.com) is in dire need of a new prosthetic leg — which the good old U.S. health-care system has priced way, way out of his reach.
I know Joel. I know how long he’s suffered with his old leg, despite benefactors having bought a much better foot for him a few years back. I’ve seen the sores on his stump with my own eyes. I know how the manual labor that brings in his small living is hurting the hell out of him and probably going to damage him even worse in the long run. In desperation, he’s thinking about breaking down and turning to the state for a new prosthesis. His friends — freedomistas all — understand.
But Joel has to face himself. He’s also got the small problem of being so far out of the system that he doesn’t even have an address, let alone 1099s or 1040s to prove his almost non-existent income. He does, however, have landlady, who sometimes receives money for him.