Saturday, December 31, 2011

Free speech and threats

Am I the only person who thinks freedom of speech includes threats and falsely yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater?

Over and over again I hear and/or read people talking about freedom of speech, but then they go and turn it into a privilege rather than a right by putting silly limits on it.

Recently, on Facebook, someone posted a comment to a link to one of my blogs and said something that could have been construed as a threat of violence. It was just confusing enough that I'm really not sure if that's the way it was meant or not.

Then, almost immediately after I saw that comment I watched a video about how Firefly fans "saved" freedom of speech at a university campus, but even the defenders of free speech fell for the myth that threats are not covered.

I don't buy it.

Now, if you act on a threat, or it seems credible that you might, your target is justified in acting to stop you. If you don't like that consequence maybe you should keep your threats to yourself.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Hastings bookstore- authors beware!

Recently I praised a company, Buck Knives, for their excellent customer service. Today, I will scold another company, Hastings, for a lack of customer service.

As you know (I hope) I have written some books. I placed 5 copies of each title in the local Hastings store. Here is the email I sent to their headquarters back on November 17, 2011- after several months of getting nowhere with the local management:

To Whom it May Concern,

This is in reference to the Hastings store in Clovis, New Mexico.

I have some books I authored on consignment at that store. I am having a lot of problems that have not been solved or adequately addressed.

The "book manager" position keeps changing, and with the change comes different rules. The "book manager" is also very hard to catch at work. For months I was not able to connect with her and my messages were never answered with a call.

About a month ago I was finally able to catch her (the current book manager at the store). She seemed genuinely interested in helping me, but the records for consignment books and sales were in shambles. The contracts for some of my titles were completely missing; with no record of my books ever being in the store. I was able to find the books on the "local authors" shelf, but two titles (out of 5) were missing. Of those which were missing, I was told that one title had been mailed back to me. I never received them, nor did anyone contact me about this. I would have gladly come to the store and retrieved them. I never got any answer as to what had happened to the other missing title, even though I was told that they would find out and call me.

I was asked to fill out new agreements for the books for which there was no longer any record of them being in the store. Which I did. At this time I was also told I must come in and check on sales every 30 days, which is not a problem as long as someone is there who can help me.

I did get paid for 3 books which records showed had been sold since I was last paid.

Today (Nov. 17, 2011) I went back in to check on sales. Once again the book manager was not there. And no one else really knew what was going on.

Now I can find none of my books in the store, and records indicate none of them are in stock, nor did they sell. It was mentioned that the books may have been destroyed in the latest inventory. I paid for those books out of my own pocket, and had anyone called me at the phone number which was on every consignment agreement, I would have come in and picked them up.

Needless to say, I am very unhappy with the situation.

I appreciate Hastings' willingness to sell the books of local authors on consignment. Many other chains simply refuse to do so. However, I can't afford to simply donate my books to Hastings.

Is there anything that you can do about this problem?


Kent McManigal
Farwell, Texas

Here is the reply I got:

We apologize for your experience at this location. Please know that the information that you have provided has been forwarded onto the correct individuals so that the necessary actions are taken.

You are a valued customer in our stores, and we hope that you will continue to give Hastings the opportunity to provide your home entertainment needs in the future.

If you need anything further please don't hesitate to contact us. Otherwise, no response is needed.

After much more of a runaround, the final answer I got from the local store can be summarized as "tough luck". They won't pay for the books that went missing. They won't accept responsibility for the disappearance.

So, customer beware.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

We outnumber the bad guys even more than we thought!

I could be wrong, but groups such as The Innocence Project and the group I recently read about (in Discover magazine) that is scientifically demonstrating that "arson investigation" is a load of hooey show that there are fewer bad people out there than most people have been led to believe, but that the ones there are might be worse than we thought- responsible for more of the trouble.

Which means that if we each take responsibility to be armed at all times, and stop bad guys who are caught in the act, we can have a larger impact of society than we previously thought.

That's very good news!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'm selling on eBay. Again.-UPDATED reminder

Still selling- Did you not get enough reading material for Christmas? I can solve that.


Added 12-8-2011
: Thanks for the response so far! I'm still waiting for someone to mention the hidden message contained in many listings. No prize for finding it, but maybe the sense of accomplishment will be worth it.

I have added even more books, plus one gem I hesitated to list for sale. I keep thinking about whether I should list some non-book items. Also, there is another seller whose sales go into the same pot, so check out other books there: link

Last night I got a big box of books. There are a LOT of "The Cat Who...." books in the box, and some SF, and some Danielle Steel and well, just keep watching. I'm guessing there are 60 or 70 books.

(Added: I have quite a few Robert A. Heinlein and Andre Norton books in the box. I haven't listed them since I'm trying to decide what to read, but let me know if you are looking for a particular title.)

I will be selling them on eBay, adding a few each day for a while. They might make good Christmas/Solstice/Kwanzaa/Hannukah/Festivus/Zagmuk gifts for people you're not too terribly fond of.

So, please, go see what I have for sale. I am dullhawk1840. I try to make the listings entertaining.


Kidnapper- the "protector"

Speaking, as I was yesterday, of learning lessons from silly sources:

I really enjoyed the movie "Tangled". Of all the Disney cartoon chicks, I like Rapunzel the best. Wow. Anyway... where was I?

The Wicked Kidnapper/"Mother" is The State. She gets Rapunzel to promise, from a`position of enforced ignorance, to never leave her. She gets her to pledge allegiance.

It was all based upon a lie.

When we find out we were lied to, we need to realize our promise is not binding. No matter what we may have said, or what promises we may have made, we were acting on a false premise. We were not the liars, even when we apparently break our word. The deal, if we ever made a deal, is off.

And yes, the Wicked Kidnapper is the bad guy, not the victim. She/it uses us while pretending to be our protector. We are being fed upon. The State, our Wicked Kidnapper, needs us; we do not need it. "She" hopes her lies, and her attempts to shield us from exposure to the truth, will keep us fearful and loyal. She hopes our guilt at wanting out of a false deal will keep us compliant. She will be sad to learn the truth in the moments before she turns to dust.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Libertarians not anti-government

Libertarians not anti-government

(My Clovis News Journal column for November 25, 2011.)

Recently in this column, which as of this week I have now been writing for a year (party hats and balloons all around!), I have been addressing the misconceptions I have heard repeated about libertarians.

I think it's important to understand your libertarian neighbors, rare though we may seem at first glance to be, so you'll know who you are dealing with and what to expect. I'm happy to provide this service.

A misconception regarding libertarians I run into a lot is that we are "anti-government". That isn't necessarily true. The root of the matter is that libertarians are pro-liberty, and since government is generally anti-liberty it makes us appear, to some observers, to be anti-government. The burden of opposition actually lies with the other side.

You can be anti-government without having the slightest libertarian leanings, and there are plenty of libertarians who still think it is possible to increase liberty through guiding government in "the right direction". I happen to disagree, based upon observation and experience, but I'd enjoy being proved wrong.

But as far as "anti-government"- I have known a lot people over the course of my life who could be described as anti-government. The funny thing about the vast majority of them is that they usually have no problem with the concept of government as long as it is doing what they want done. They are frequently enthusiastic cheerleaders for government coercion and theft, until it is directed at them. At that point they suddenly discover they are "anti-government", until the situation changes once again. That isn't libertarian at all. It is aimlessly "anti-government without any guiding principles". And I think it is dangerous.

If there could exist a hypothetical government which never claimed or enforced a monopoly on force, never sought to finance itself through the twin thefts known as "taxation" and inflating away the value of the currency, never used coercion as a tool against individuals who were not stealing or attacking anyone, and never violated any individual's rights, most libertarians would probably not mind that government. Personally, I would still have no use for it, but I wouldn't spend much effort opposing it.

Because, you see, it's not the government libertarians oppose; it is the unethical behavior they all depend upon in order to exist that we oppose. The same behavior we oppose no matter where it occurs, and no matter who is engaging in it.


Put one foot in front of the other...

No one wants to believe they are a bad person. Even when they admit they have done something bad they tend to believe they had no choice in the matter, but only did what they "had to do".

I also think that is why so few people change from being a bad person to being good. Justifying their bad behavior by blaming circumstances becomes a habit that is hard to break.

The Winter Warlock learned to put one foot in front of the other in his personal quest to stop being "bad"*, according to the old Christmas TV special. One step at a time. But, first he had to see that what he was doing was wrong, and had to admit it was a choice that he could change.

Funny how often we can learn something from such a trivial source, isn't it.

(*Assuming that he didn't actually own the land that was being crossed by the young Mr. Kringle... If he did own it, he wasn't being very neighborly, but was well within his rights to use force against the trespassers. But, that's another lesson right there. Right up there with the fact that Scrooge was also within his rights before the "ghosts" scared him into changing.)


Monday, December 26, 2011

Wrong again! (I mean me)

After the Christmas meal had been devoured, and the after-meal stupor had given way to the games, a relative happened to mention the recent jail cell suicide of a suspect in a child abuse case. Her opinion was that his death was a good thing and had saved the "taxpayers" money.

Instead of keeping my mouth shut (wouldn't you just love to have me at your family gatherings) I said that I believe, and the evidence shows, too many innocent people are arrested (and convicted and executed).

She then said "Well, I think if a suspect kills himself it is an admission of guilt." I agreed.

But then I thought about it.

I was wrong.

In the current US Police State a suicide could also be the result of the realization that, even if you are innocent, your life is over once you have been dragged in to the "justice" system by an accusation. Even if you are innocent and are set free by a jury, you will still have the cloud hanging over your head that says that The State thinks you did something bad. Too many State worshipers believe that you wouldn't have been arrested if you didn't do it. And, that's enough to make some people choose death instead of a lifetime of being suspected of getting away with something. In fact, I suspect the innocent might be more inclined to kill themselves after an arrest than people who really don't care.

And, that's also assuming that a suicide is really a suicide, rather than a murder by the kidnappers or their jailhouse "brothers".

Just my thoughts.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas- Happy (late) Solstice!

Merry Christmas. Yuletide greetings. Happy Zagmuk. Happy Festivus. Happy (late) winter solstice- which is the real "reason for the season".

Here's my "deep thought" for the day:

The whole Christmas myth of Santa Claus illustrates why central planning is always a failure. For one individual to visit hundreds of millions of homes in one night, even adjusted for a 24 hour night moving around the planet, would be impossible. Yet, it apparently happens.

How? Santa wouldn't work as a "top down program" administered by one person from one spot, but works pretty well as a "bottom up" deal where each family is responsible for their own little corner of the world- IF they choose to participate. No coercion, no rules. Not perfect, but possible.

Just like every other facet of reality.

Now, enjoy this musical interlude:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Two "deep" questions

There are two different quotes that touch on the same question, and they have both been going through my mind a lot recently.

 One is "What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

The other is "What is it you want the most?"

 And I don't have an answer for either one.  What does it say about me that I can't answer those questions, and that I have never been able to?

Seriously, I want to be able to answer both of those, and I have been trying to as long as I can remember- even long before I had ever seen the questions in front of me.  More than anything else, that is the reason I quit college after 2 years, having never chosen a "major".  Am I trying to keep my options open?  Or, is that just justification to avoid... something?

And, does it even matter?


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Coercion no way to win support

Coercion no way to win support

(My Clovis News Journal/Portales News-Tribune column for November 18, 2011)

When you decide your house needs a new roof how do you go about getting it done? Do you either try to use your insurance policy or find a way to pay for it yourself? Or, do you go to your neighbors and demand, at gunpoint, that they pay for all or part of it on your behalf?

Only government can consistently choose the latter option and keep getting away with it.

There are a lot of things I think I really "need". Things that would be good for me and probably be good for everyone in my life, but things that cost more than I can possibly afford on my own. There are also things I think would be good for "the community", which I can't do alone.

However I am not under the impression that just because some things would be good, and would arguably benefit a lot of people, I am justified in forcing you to pay for them, even if I can see no other way. I can describe what I want, and try to convince others to pitch in. I could even whine and plead and cry. As long as I don't use coercion- or delegate someone else to use coercion for the cause- I am doing nothing wrong. Annoying, perhaps, but not wrong.

It is also why I would not impose a libertarian paradise on you without leaving you a simple way to opt out.

Just as soon as I use violence, or even skillfully veiled threats of violence, to get my way, I have crossed the line from right to wrong. It doesn't matter what the money was for, or how many people it might benefit. I have de-legitimized my cause by giving up on convincing others to help voluntarily and lowering myself to the level of the common crook.

So, is there something you think should be done that you can't afford to do by yourself? Then start telling others why you believe it is important and convince them to go along with you. Don't turn to coercion, not even through the enforced opinions of a voting majority, to accomplish your goals. That just shows you couldn't sway enough people to voluntarily help you accomplish your goal, but were only able to convince enough who believe coercion is OK and are willing to use force against people who don't want to participate. It means you failed. Don't fail.


Changing the past or embracing it

Yesterday was the 8th anniversary of what was probably the worst day of my life. I won't go into details.

Almost everything about my life today is a direct result of that one day. And the pain is still almost unbearable at times.

But, because of the pain of that day I sought out like-minded individuals and, instead of simply reading what others were saying about individual liberty, I began speaking out about it. I stood to be counted with the good guys. I felt I had nothing more to lose, and that made me "brave".

Would I change anything if I could? My answer is "no" only because of my daughter, who I would have never had almost 4 years later if that day had gone differently. But, everything else I'd trade away in an instant.

This is reality, and reality says the past can't be changed anyway (even while it can be discovered to all be a lie written to support the current Rulers). So, I accept the current conditions that the past made happen. I'm not so sure I'd say I embrace any of it.

Life goes on, and I have discovered that monumental change comes when you least expect it, so never get too comfortable with life. The next monumental change may just be wonderful.


Monday, December 19, 2011

"The Political Bible" by Rich Rubino

I've been reading The Political Bible of Little Known Facts in American Politics by Rich Rubino. It is dedicated to "political junkies", one of which I most assuredly am not.

However...It is a very fascinating book. Once I got past my initial bewilderment over why politicians and their oddities are more worthy of a book than are janitors or doctors I found myself enjoying the book.

You can read about things future presidents did before they entered organized crime. Among other things. You can also read about state-level politicians, and congresscritters. And you can read facts about the "founding documents". Seriously, this book is just filled with short snippets that cover the spectrum. Odd things, funny things, sad things.

Since this is a "plotless" book, it is an excellent bathroom book. You can read just a few of the brief entries at a time and never lose your place.

I did enjoy it- in fact, I still am enjoying it. I also know some people I intend to loan it to- but I want it back.

So, thanks, Rich, for allowing me the opportunity to enjoy your obsession.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Buck Knives- Thumbs up!

I just wanted to say something nice about a company that made me very satisfied: Buck knives.

Recently in my wanderings, I found a Buck knife buried under some gravel. (Not a clue why I decided to dig right there...) It was in rough shape and the tip of the blade was broken off.

I looked online when I got home and discovered that it wasn't a cheap knife by any means, so I emailed Buck an inquiry about their repair services.

I was told that I could send the knife and $10 to them and it would be repaired. Good deal!

Since one of my everyday carry knives is also a buck, and also had its tip broken off when it was very new (over 20 years ago) by (probably) the first person I handed it to (grrr!), I decided I would send it in as well.

Well, I got the knives back and ... WOW! The found knife looked almost new. They had not only replaced the broken blade with a new, and fairly sharp, blade, but they had also polished the handle very nicely. The wood still has some deep scratches, but everything is smooth and feels nice in the hand. It was more than I expected and I was thrilled.

My everyday knife looked new. It was in pretty good shape anyway (I had long ago reshaped the blade so the broken tip wasn't even noticeable to anyone but me), but it is in practically perfect shape now. Once again, they hit the bullseye!

Just a bit of sharpening and the knives were up to my sharpness standards (which are ridiculously high).

No, Buck isn't paying or otherwise rewarding me to say any of this. I tried to send Buck an email to tell them how happy I was with their repair service as soon as I got the knives back, but the email wouldn't go through. So I hope they will someday see this and know they got my respect. $20 for two like-new knives is a deal that just can't be beat.


"Freedom: Time to Take it Back!" by Ron Fontaine

Here is something good to read today. I didn't write it, but it seems like something that could have come out of my brain. It has been around a while, but I just now ran across it.

My own opinion is that "we" don't need to take anything back. I intend to exercise my liberty regardless of what anyone else does. It would be nice if I had enough company that The State was afraid to move against me in the knowledge that to do so would result in its immediate destruction. But, either way, I withdraw consent.


Facts, right or wrong, vs Opinions

Do all solutions create more problems? Yes. You may not like that fact, but it will remain a fact in spite of your displeasure. And, regardless of the statement made by a commenter on the above-linked column.

But, let's pretend for a moment I am wrong. Is the above statement about solutions and problems a "fact" or an "opinion"?

Even if it is wrong, it is an erroneous fact, not an opinion.

An opinion is saying "chocolate is the best flavor of ice cream" or "They Might be Giants is the best musical group". Saying "The Unicorn is the most massive of the cetaceans" is wrong, but it is not an opinion.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Golden Rule

I have mentioned before that The Zero Aggression Principle says about the same thing as The Golden Rule. Turns out I was a little off- well, maybe.

A new friend and I were talking the other night and he mentioned something I'm not sure I've ever heard before (well, more than one thing, but that may be the subject of more posts).

He said The Golden Rule should be (and may actually have originally been) "Don't do unto others as you would not have them do unto you."

From a "negative rights" perspective, that makes perfect sense to me.

Added:  I also wonder if a better way to say it might be: "Don't do unto others as they would not have you do unto them."  That makes allowances to people who might enjoy being caused pain.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Sharia law is coming!"

I just saw another person post a warning that "Sharia law is coming!"

No, it's already here. You just don't see it because it's based upon a religion you happen to be a part of.

Kinda scary to think you might lose your privileged position and be subject to someone else's nonsensical "laws" and draconian punishments for doing things you have an absolute, eternal human right to do, isn't it. Maybe you shoulda thought about that before doing unto others.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Adventures in Amarillo

I went to the big city today. Spent some time in a mall. Yeah, believe it or not I do enjoy malls and the opportunity they provide for people watching. And going to the knife store.

Anyway, I was sitting in the play area watching my daughter play with the other kids when she suddenly commented about the baby running off. She was pointing past the exit. I turned and looked and, yep, there was a little kid (probably not much over a year old) toddling for the mall's exit. I quickly scanned to see if any adults seemed to be going after him, and seeing no one, I took off.

The path he chose was not crowded so I didn't exactly run or anything, but just walked with purpose after him. (with my 40" inseam, I cover ground quickly) About halfway there a woman asked if that was my kid. I said "No. He just left the play area and no one went after him, so I thought I should bring him back." About this time (I never stopped walking) he reached the exit and started trying to get past the Salvation Army bell ringer, who was trying to keep him from wiggling through. I got to the kid and offered him my hand. He quite happily took it and I began leading him back to the play area. He traveled just as fast back as he did in his escape attempt.

The bystander was still standing there staring at the scene. She once again asked about his parents. I said that no one seemed to be watching him or noticing that he was gone. I said I just figured I'd get him back in the play area and see who claimed him.

I took him in and was met by my daughter's mom, who loudly asked a chatting woman if this was her kid. She answered "Well, if I have to claim him..."

I told her that he made it all the way to the exit and would have made it outside had the bell ringer not held him back. (Of course, he wouldn't have gotten through the second set of doors, as by that point I was right there.) She just kinda shrugged and led him back to where she was sitting. Then resumed chatting to someone sitting a few feet from her as the kid started playing again.

The bystander came up to me and made some comments about the mother's lack of attention and seemed completely bewildered how anyone could just let their kid wander off that way, and seem so unconcerned after it had happened.

I did notice he was watched a little more carefully after that, since his subsequent escape attempts were thwarted by his mother before he could leave the area.

Just another day...


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Libertarians aren't angry people

Libertarians aren't angry people ( general) If that link doesn't work, try this one.

(My Clovis News Journal column for November 11, 2011.)

One accusation I have seen repeatedly leveled at libertarians, by people who see themselves as being in the mainstream, is that libertarians must be "angry". Just because we speak out against the use of coercion, and don't fall for exceptions based upon- well, anything, we must be "angry"?

Now, I won't deny I have known a couple of angry libertarians. And angry conservatives and angry liberals too, for that matter. Considering human nature, and with all else being equal, you might imagine the percentages are comparable.

On the other hand, a philosophy that rejects aggression seems ill-suited to angry people. Angry people are drawn to revenge and punishment. If a libertarian is consistent, revenge and punishment (beyond restitution to the individuals directly harmed by an act of aggression or theft) are impossible to justify.

To assume a person must be angry just because he speaks out when he see things wrong with the world makes no sense. Are you angry when you say the house needs fresh paint, or when you mention to someone that your car needs gas? Neither am I angry when I point out that coercion is wrong, and that I do not want any individual, or any group, using it against others on my behalf. It is just the way it is.

Now, I might be angry if I know my house needs to be painted, but someone uses coercion or theft to prevent me from painting it. Or if I see someone forcing others to paint his house against their will. And, knowing that liberty would solve most of the real and imagined problems in society, I get more than a little frustrated when popular pundits and powerful puppeticians (* note to editor: Yes, I made up a word to describe politicians who are controlled by something other than Principle. You can change it back to "politician" if you must) propose the opposite- and then pretend to be surprised when the problems inevitably get worse.

Perhaps the "angry" label is applied because libertarians are not ashamed to speak out. Silence changes nothing, and it gives an illusion of consent where none exists. I prefer to give fair warning and point out the lines in the sand. No one seems too shocked that liberals/conservatives speak out; only that those who don't buy into that false dichotomy speak up.

I feel bad for those who have hitched their wagon to the twin horses of coercion and theft. The choice was theirs to make, and I wonder if the accusation is an attempt to put libertarians on the defensive.


Arguing is so tiresome

You know, I'm getting tired of arguing.

I feel like it might just be easier to let people wallow in happy ignorance than to try to show them a little light of truth.

But, the problem is that I care about people and I think operating from faulty premises hurts them.

It's like if I see someone in a survival situation trying to make a fire without matches. I've started thousands of fires that way. If I see someone trying in a way that I see isn't going to work I want to at least give pointers. People generally hate that. I know because I've done that, too.

I've also been on the other side. I was once the guy who had tried to make a fire with a bow/drill... and failed- probably hundreds of times. I had read every description ever written of the making of the kit, and the techniques, and failed time and time again. Then, one day high in the Rockies, I heard a guy was going to do a demonstration on bow/drill firemaking. I swallowed my pride and showed up- an ignorant pilgrim in need of help. I watched him make a fire- and saw him correct the one fatal error in every single description I had ever read- and I had a fire in minutes the very next time I tried. Which was just as fast as I could gather the materials.

But, perhaps I had to be at the point where I was ready for help. (I think I was ready for help years earlier; I just couldn't find it.)

So, the best thing might be to clear a spot and build my own fire without uttering a word. Or, just let objections go unanswered while just living it. That makes me feel a little like I am ignoring my duty, though.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Concentration camps, and those who support them.


Is my life one iota better because there are prisons? No!

Oh, but you might claim I am "safer" when the bad guys are locked up where they can't hurt me. And I would scoff.

Prisons are nothing but concentration camps that enrich and empower the real bad guys.

Not all are as bad as this example, but none are good. And those who work in them should examine the evil they are supporting and enabling.

Prison, and the looming threat of prison, is used to silence legitimate dissent. A large percentage who are imprisoned are political prisoners- caged and controlled for violating drug "laws", gun "laws", and other counterfeit "laws". Some are caged and controlled for being uppity enough to do the right thing and defend their own life or property instead of standing aside while testosterone-jacked thugs who work for the State do the job (poorly and randomly) for them.

"Society", meaning individuals like you and me, would be safer if there were no prisons, and those who decide to attack or steal had to face targets who didn't have to worry that the legitimate act of self defense- of life or property- would result in a potential prison sentence.

Concentration camps are disgusting, and all associated with them would be ashamed if they had any ethics or principles.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

New excuse to keep long hair

I just read this little article: Hair Is An Extension Of The Nervous System, Why Indians Keep Their Hair Long. Read it. It isn't very long.

No, I don't buy it either.

Hair is dead, and it made of keratin, not nerve tissue. However, I'll take whatever silly justifications I can when told I "should" cut my hair.

I know I feel better when my hair is long. That's enough for me.


Anti-Christmas Christians

I don't remember ever seeing as much anti-Christmas whining as I'm seeing this year. By Christians.

A lot of it is based around this video which keeps cropping up on Facebook. My thoughts are "so what?" You try to co-opt an ancient holiday, and then moan and complain because the original bits of it won't go away peacefully and let you have it all your way? OK, so it was your ancestors, not you, who tried that sneaky little trick. Still... Why not just enjoy the holiday?

So, here's a compromise: you Christians who aren't happy about the pagan aspects of a pagan holiday which you tried to claim for yourselves, why not find out with absolute certainty if/when Jesus was born and then go celebrate that date as your holiday and leave Christmas- by whatever name- to the rest of us. You are perfectly welcome to continue to celebrate with us, of course. Just stop trying to poop on the fun. OK?


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Offensive materials online

I keep seeing different governments and moralizers trying to forbid or regulate "offensive material" on the internet.

Offensive to whom?

Pro-cop drivel is extremely offensive to me, so why should I be exposed to it?

Anti-gun nonsense also offends me. As does pro-military stuff and anti-sex hand-wringing. Yet no one seems bothered that I am routinely exposed to this crap. For that matter, I have never sought to have anyone protect me from it. I need to be aware that it is out there so it doesn't catch me unaware. I can pretty much control what I am exposed to by avoiding certain sites. I am not a baby to be coddled. Can't say the same about the statists and moralizers.


Friday, December 09, 2011

Some people just don't get it- firefighting edition

Another entry in "Some people just don't get it".

Someone, or a site, calling himself/itself "Needlenose" has latched onto a symptom of The State and declared it to be a consequence of "Libertopia". He is gloating over the "libertarian" Tennessee firefi... firewatchers who refused to put out a fire until they got paid.

So, I posted the following comment (over a day ago, but it is still languishing in Moderation):

"You kinda miss the point, since things like this would probably not happen in Libertopia, yet this event did happen in a coercive, non-libertopian society."


Defeating "confirmation bias"

How can you be sure that libertarianism- respect for the liberty of each individual- is the right path?

Confirmation bias means that we will ignore counter evidence and play up the importance of evidence that supports our case.

However, I didn't always support the whole "liberty package". In fact, there are aspects of libertarianism I used to hate. However, when presented with evidence that showed that respecting individual liberty was better- made my life and the lives of those around me safer, wealthier, and more consistent- I switched sides on those issues. I didn't allow confirmation bias to obscure the evidence for liberty.

Perhaps that means something.


Thursday, December 08, 2011

Liberty Lines- December 8, 2011

(The State Line Tribune, December 8, 2011)

"The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." – H.L. Mencken

Freedom of speech is meaningless until you want to say something that those with power- be they a dictator or a voting majority- don't want you to say. And property rights are likewise meaningless until you want to use your property in a way those with power don't like.

With the Esparza property rights case in Texico, a property owner's rights are being trampled, apparently with universal approval, and that's sad.

This doesn't mean I appreciate junk and litter. On the contrary, I hate them with a passion. However my right to do something about it ends at my property lines. I have every right to take action to stop anyone from damaging my property, but only until I try to control someone else's property. Requests and privacy fences; not invasion and theft.

Ah, but some will claim that freedom of speech doesn't mean you have the right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater, so property rights don't mean you can use your property in a way that might devalue your neighbors' property or cause a "health hazard".

You have the right to shout whatever you wish to shout, wherever you wish to shout it, but you are accountable for any actual harm that occurs from your doing so. Offending or frightening someone is not harming them; they are still fully responsible for how they react to your shout.

Accordingly, you have a right to use your property however you wish and then you have a responsibility to pay any real damages your usage causes your neighbors. Resorting to "legal coercion" when negotiation fails means you are cheating to get what you want.

That includes billing property owners for work they did not consent to having done on their property.

The individuals actually harmed, not any government entity, are within their rights to demand restitution for the harm, and they are also within their rights to fence their property, shoot or poison any pests coming from the problem property (regardless of "laws" to the contrary), and to completely shun the owner- refuse to have any dealings or do business with him in any way even if it means he starves in the dark and cold. No one is within their rights to take ownership of someone's property by controlling how they use it just because the person isn't cooperative.

If I had the money I'd even help the property owner pay any lien that is placed on his property so that it won't be stolen, "legally" or not, from him. Because it's the right thing to do.


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Busting another myth

The news says that the Mythbusters guys have had an accident and shot a cannonball through a house and left a path of destruction through a neighborhood, ending with a damaged van.

The truth is somewhat different.

I have watched the show a lot. Whenever cannons or guns are involved, the Mythbusters crew defers to local Only Ones. You know, enforcers who are the "only ones" to be trusted with guns and such. So, if an accident happened, it was NOT the Mythbusters who screwed up. It was just another Lee Paige moment.


Gun bans

Outlawing guns in big cities makes as much sense as outlawing snow shovels in the Rocky Mountains.

And don't forget, any "laws" forbidding owning or carrying, or demanding a license for either, are "laws" which outlaw guns.


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Don't let imperfections ruin life

Don't let imperfections ruin life

(My Clovis News Journal column for November 4, 2011.)

The imperfections in the world can bring some entertainment. I am glad for that. Unbroken comfort can make you more numb than jumping into that frozen lake with a polar bear club.

Recently I enjoyed sitting outside during the dirt storm that hit the area. My young daughter enjoyed it with me. She ran around laughing as the dirt engulfed her- obviously exhilarated by the novelty of the situation. We could have hunkered indoors and complained about the weather, but look at the joy we would have missed. Adverse conditions can be fun to sit through, with the right attitude. Witness storm chasers.

Some people live lives of bitterness just because everything in the world isn't perfect. They seem to believe the only way to make themselves feel better is to force everyone else to conform to their idea of "perfect". That is sad. Sure, there are so many things that could be better, but you may as well enjoy what you can when the opportunity presents itself. You are only responsible for your life, and you have an obligation to mind your own business. Remembering that frees up a huge amount of your life.

For example: I value liberty, but I can still enjoy life even though I am surrounded by a government that I don't need, I don't want, I don't respect, and that only gets in the way. There is no Utopia. Even in a free society there will still be bad guys trying to use coercion or other aspects of the political method in order to deprive individuals of their life, liberty, and property. If you can't enjoy life now, under government, you wouldn't be able to enjoy a life of liberty. either. If you can't enjoy a little dirt storm now and then, you probably can't enjoy the rainy days. There will always be something you could complain about.

That doesn't mean you let evil go unnoticed or unchallenged. It just means you call a spade a spade, then move on and don't let it ruin your day. In fact, you can probably get on with the business of living more easily when you clear the air and stop trying to justify the unjustifiable.

Just weather the storm, try not to get blown away, and laugh at the foolishness of it all. Especially the foolishness of those who mistake the storm for life.


Cursed turn signals!!!

I have come to the conclusion that I really dislike turn signals. I know, that's not a popular opinion. You are more likely to hear people cussing about those who don't use turn signals. But I have come to really despise the stupid things.

And, here's why.

Sure, it sounds like a good idea: let other drivers know that you intend to turn (or change lanes) before you do it. Of course, unless your move will actually interfere with other drivers in some way, it's pointless, but we'll ignore that for a moment.

The reality of turn signals comes down to this: Some drivers use your warning as a challenge to cut you off before you can do what you signaled your intention to do.

And, in the case of others signaling for your "benefit", in most cases it seems that the signal is ripe for tragic confusion. Here in town I can't trust drivers to turn when they are signaling that they are turning. And I am not talking about people who used their signal when changing lanes and then forgot to turn it off. When I am trying to pull out on the highway and see an apparent opening due to someone signaling, it usually turns out that they are actually turning beyond where I sit. If I trust their signal and pull out I will be hit. If they wait until they are past me to begin signaling so as to not be misleading me, the signal is meaningless. And in that case, according to the "law", they didn't turn on their signal far enough in advance of their turn. So, signal or not, I need to wait until they either turn or pass me before I make a move, just as I would have to do in the absence of turn signals.

And, in response to one person I mentioned this to (after just such an event while they were driving) who couldn't wrap their mind around my point at all, I am not saying hand signals are "better". I think it's usually better- but not always- to forgo the signal completely. If you can signal in a way that has little chance of causing confusion, do it. If not, leave the lever alone!


Monday, December 05, 2011

Who started it?

Is it "theft" or an example of trespassing in order to retrieve your stolen property from someone else's property when your negotiations fail?

I don't think it is.

I have never been in a situation where I had to make that decision, but I wouldn't fault someone for breaking in and re-taking possession of their own stolen property as long as they did as little damage as possible on entering, and didn't take anything extra. What about you?

I think it is the same sort of situation where using violence against someone who is initiating force against you is not attacking them, but self defense.

I also don't think it is "cheating" if you don't stay faithful to the remnants of a relationship where the other person has unilaterally ended the sexual component.

And, there are other similar situations out there.

To me it all comes back to "who started it?"


Saturday, December 03, 2011

Fictional Mentors

My favorite fictional character "mentors", and the list may not be complete, are: Sherlock Holmes, Malcolm Reynolds, Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Crocodile Dundee, Captain Jack Sparrow, and Paladin. (If I think of more, I'll add them- sneak them into the line-up- later.)

Those are the characters I would most like to "be like" in some major way. None of them are perfect, and I would prefer to gain their good qualities while avoiding their flaws. Of course, I already have plenty of flaws of my own; perhaps theirs wouldn't be much worse.

I'm not sure what that says about me other than that it's probably silly of me to have "favorite fictional character mentors" at all.


Friday, December 02, 2011

Be Alert. Do it for YOU.

I was a little surprised that anyone wouldn't have already known this on their own.

Being alert and aware doesn't just protect you from bad guys and dangerous situations, it also allows you to notice the good stuff too.

I'm not always there, but I try. When my situational awareness slips, and then I snap back, I realize how much I have missed. Everything was gray and muffled, and once I start being aware again, the colors come flooding back.

I know a lot of people who stumble through life, noticing almost nothing. It shocks me how much they don't see. They don't know where their cell phone is, because, even though they are the one who laid it down and they have passed it repeatedly, they neither noticed placing it there, nor noticed it when they walked through the room. But outdoors this inconvenience becomes even more tragic. They don't see the animal tracks under their feel, nor the kestrel sailing overhead, nor the flower blooming in the shadow. They don't hear the prairie dog scolding them from a distance, or the sandhill cranes calling from high in the sky. They are missing out on life.

Let's face it- the lurking danger is pretty rare, but the beauty you could be enjoying is everywhere. Stay alert so you can enjoy your surroundings, and so that when the lurking danger does appear you will notice it before it becomes a problem.

It isn't an inconvenience or a burden to be alert. It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Pedobear Panic!

Pedobear? Really, Albuquerque Panic-Pushers are worried that pedophiles would advertise themselves as pedophiles? That should be their fondest wish!

Personally, I think it's a good thing when predators self-identify. Cops do it with uniforms and silly hair-hats. Encourage pedophiles to do it with Pedobear. It saves the rest of us a lot of trouble.

Look, it's just a cartoon character, and if someone chooses to display it they probably aren't going to be an actual pedophile. The real danger comes from those who want to avoid any suspicion.

But even if a pedophile has a Pedobear sticker on his car, so what? Teach your kids to stay away from that character, kinda like any other warning symbol. And more importantly, teach your kids to be aware of their surroundings and that it is OK to try to hurt anyone who tries to attack them. And teach them how to do it.