Category: Free Body

I’ve just sent in a resume for a position with a national rural-life organization, and while I was writing the cover letter, I thought of Jefferson and Washington. How they loved their farming pursuits and their lands. (I’m leaving aside the slavery question at the moment, but it’s never far from my mind.)

Jefferson, for instance, with all his legendary bookishness, loved to experiment at Monticello with varieties of peas, his favorite vegetable, to see how well they’d grow in his soil, when they would ripen, how they tasted. He also introduced viticulture to the United States. He kept copious notes over years and must have learned a great deal.

And Washington, who vastly preferred the life of a gentleman farmer over that of a politician, enjoyed using his ingenuity to develop a plow that would cut effectively through his pebbly, tough soil. He also designed a 16-sided threshing barn with a grooved floor through which the grains of wheat would fall after horses’ hooves worked them out of their hulls. In the barn cellar, slaves would then gather and sack the grain.

These two men of the world, of accomplishment and experience, dearly loved the land. I think they had a bond with it that many of us today have never known: Continue reading

It’s messed up that a town meeting would even see the need to debate and legislate the right to choose one’s own nourishment…the very stuff that makes up our bodies.

But, welcome to fascist la-la land, aka modern-day America. Go Sedgwick!

My thanks to Kevin at Cryptogon for the link.

Hi, guys and gals. I’m glad to be back from several weeks of business travel, and I offer my apologies for the dearth of posts while I was away.

First on the list this morning is a linky to Gary North’s wonderful long article, Shorn on the Fourth of July. Incredible. I haven’t ever seen history written like this. Some friends and I were wondering recently what happened to the “original” Declaration of Independence. I mean, if it was sent to King George III, why is it in the National Archives? Wouldn’t old George have tossed it in the fire or something? Besides, the one in the Archives is signed by the 55 “traitors.” But the signers didn’t really sign the engrossed-on-parchment version until August 2, so did the Founders really wait that long to send it across the pond?

Anyway, Dr. North hits one out of the park – even accusing the usual Founders of the old “Those are my people – I must find out where they are going so that I may lead them!” trick. A great read for today…somehow its detailing of the history of taxation on these shores dovetails with my ongoing feeling of unavoidable encroachment. It’s the nature of the beast, especially since that’s how this particular beast was built from the beginning.

And that leads me to the title of this post…I’m still in dependence, and yet it’s still Independence Day. This year I’m feeling differently about it all. I’ve got this sense of “Enough with the self-deprivation and delayed gratification – I want to enjoy what freedom I can scrounge!” Like Debra over at Wolfesblog recently decided, there’s freedom to be enjoyed in various permutations in various situations. For her, a corporate job (one she likes) brings the freedom to earn the bucks faster, to work a reasonable schedule, and to provide the medications needed for her loved ones’ continued well-being.

The decision I’m struggling with is somewhat the opposite: I’m ready to start my own business doing what I’ve recently been trained to do (with solitary time for creative work and space for doing art – neither of which I currently have – on the side). But in order to do it, I need a (home) office in a clean, attractive place, preferably close to or right in town.

(In other words, the RV I’ve been sharing with Thunder for a year, parked in the middle of nowhere, won’t cut it.  😉  No offense to my dear sweetie. It’s just the nature of an RV and of where RVs tend to get parked. Wow, has it really been a year? Well, just about.)

Now, I could take my new skills to someone else’s shop and be paid roughly half the amount I’d make freelance. And I could continue to live in the camper. But I’ve tried, and I just can’t take the idea of myself sucking up to anyone, just to land or to keep a job anymore. I can’t see doing it someone else’s way with a fake smile on my face, when I can see a way that’s better for the client and for me.

Plus, the commute would be up to an hour each way, with a gasoline bill to match, and it would definitely take longer to pay down the debts I have remaining. Having crunched the numbers, I do know that paying more in rent will be worth it in terms of the greater income possibilities – if I can develop the clients. And I think that I can.

Paying off those debts is my main priority now, and when that’s accomplished, then I’ll feel comfortable making the leap to a gulch situation. But can I really trust myself to do that? Honestly, I know that I’m like Debra – I want, at least for a while, to live in an upscale place, to be able to walk to a nice little coffee bar or health food store, to impress my friends and family. I have to admit that I’m weak in these ways, I’m dependent because I want these things I haven’t had before.

And if I get them, will I ever be willing to leave them behind?

Which is the path of freedom for me now – a high-rent place (available only through a background check, of course), that allows me to build my own business and reputation, to pay down my debts faster, and to enjoy a spacious, inviting home and the days I spend in it, alone and with company…or a low-rent, low-profile, low-autonomy lifestyle that puts my eventual gulch farther out in the future?

I feel lately that freedom for me, at this point in time anyway, is about taking calculated risks, too. Especially when they seem calculated to bring more happiness – and real personal growth. So maybe the answer for each person lies in the types of freedom she’s most wanting or needing at any given time.

Lately I’ve been astonished and warmed to observe how many people, from widely different walks of life, and even in divergent times, “get it” about the insanity and brutality of those in power.

Some interesting reading I’ve been doing lately – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Why We Can’t Wait, for one – has provided morale boosting of an unexpected and fascinating type. Dr. King writes powerfully, as you’d expect, about the viciousness he and the civil rights movement faced for years. One quote out of many I’ve marked for inspiration:

Nonviolent resistance paralyzed and confused the power structures against which it was directed. The brutality with which officials would have quelled the black individual became impotent when it could not be pursued with stealth and remain unobserved. It was caught – as a fugitive from a penitentiary is often caught – in gigantic circling spotlights. It was imprisoned in a luminous glare revealing the naked truth to the whole world.

It is true that some demonstrators suffered violence, and that a few paid the extreme penalty of death. They were the martyrs of last summer [1963] who laid down their lives to put an end to the brutalizing of thousands who had been beaten and bruised and killed in dark streets and back rooms of sheriffs’ offices, day in and day out, in hundreds of summers past.

But the world easily and quickly forgets, and the brutality can go on. And Dr. King’s legions had the advantage of a physically evident bond among them, which helped to develop and sustain a feeling of togetherness, an esprit de corps. What we freedom lovers face today is very different, partly because there is no obvious link we share.

Then again, that fact can be turned to advantage if we so choose. And it relates back to my opening paragraph. Freedom lovers are everywhere, among all kinds of people, and always have been. Another book I’ve found intriguing recently is The Hopi Survival Kit by Thomas E. Mails. I picked it up initially because it contained some suggestions on farming successfully in a drought or dry climate, potentially useful for gulching purposes – but found much more than I bargained for.

The book is an in-depth history of the Hopi people’s traditions, and the invasions made upon them by the Bahannas [white powermongers, also called two-hearteds]. As the temptations offered by the whites grew more attractive, more and more Hopi were co-opted to the side of “progress,” and even became oppressors of other Hopi through the tribal council and tribal police. The author speaks on behalf of Chief Dan Evehema, the last Elderly Elder of the Hopi tradition, a man of great courage and simplicity. Doing some further inquiry, I found the Chief’s “Message to Mankind,” in which he says,

Where is the freedom which you all fight for and sacrifice your children for? Is it only the Indian people who have lost or are all Americans losing the very thing which you original[ly] came here to find? We don’t share the freedom of the press because what gets into the papers is what the government wants people to believe, not what is really happening. We have no freedom of speech, because we are persecuted by our own people for speaking our beliefs.

We are at the final stages now and there is a last force that is about to take away our remaining homeland. We are still being denied many things including the [right] to be Hopis and to make our living in accordance with our religious teachings. The Hopi leaders have warned leaders in the White House and the leaders in the Glass House [the United Nations headquarters in New York] but they do not listen. So as our prophecy says then it must be up to the people with good pure hearts that will not be afraid to help us to fulfill our destiny in peace for this world. We now stand at a cross road whether to lead ourselves in everlasting life or total destruction.

My heart aches for these Hopi, whose very name means “people of peace,” as it does for those black Americans who suffered the scourges of slavery and cruelty for centuries. More importantly, though, I honor them for the choice they made to look their enemies in the face and in the heart to see just what lies within, and to learn from it, and to resist it with all their might of spirit and of righteousness.

I’d like to think that one day I might be worthy to be accepted into the freedom tribe with such courageous men and women as these.

Fascinating article (found via, link in post title) about the coming death of faith in government to provide “security,” and how people are likely to handle this responsibility themselves.

Security will become a function of where you live and whom you work for, much as health care is allocated already. Wealthy individuals and multinational corporations will be the first to bail out of our collective system, opting instead to hire private military companies, such as Blackwater and Triple Canopy, to protect their homes and facilities and establish a protective perimeter around daily life. Parallel transportation networks–evolving out of the time-share aircraft companies such as Warren Buffett’s NetJets–will cater to this group, leapfrogging its members from one secure, well-appointed lily pad to the next.

Members of the middle class will follow, taking matters into their own hands by forming suburban collectives to share the costs of security–as they do now with education–and shore up delivery of critical services. These “armored suburbs” will deploy and maintain backup generators and communications links; they will be patrolled by civilian police auxiliaries that have received corporate training and boast their own state-of-the-art emergency-response systems. As for those without the means to build their own defense, they will have to make do with the remains of the national system. They will gravitate to America’s cities, where they will be subject to ubiquitous surveillance and marginal or nonexistent services. For the poor, there will be no other refuge.

About the author:
John Robb was a mission commander for a “black” counterterrorism unit that worked with Delta Force and Seal Team 6 before becoming the first Internet analyst at Forrester Research and a key architect in the rise of Web logs and RSS. He is writing a book on the logic of terrorism.

Sounds like a guy who knows what he’s talking about.

Well, I took a break from blogging and did indeed get more writing done on other projects. But that other writing has given birth to a lot of new questions and concepts that just need some working out. And a blog or journal is a good way for me to explore them.

As some of you know, I’m writing a novel about a unique version of an underground railroad in the days of Bleeding Kansas, just before the outbreak of the War Between the States (or whatever name you prefer). And I’m striving to understand the motivation of people who prefer (or at least accept) non-freedom, and what separates them from those who truly need to live in freedom.

The heroine of the story starts out naively assuming that every slave desires freedom, and the only reason they haven’t yet taken it is because they don’t see how. So she’s going to teach them. But in the process she learns that even most of the slaves don’t have the will to freedom – some do, of course, but many just want to get by and not make waves, or they’re stopped by fear that the unknown will be worse than present reality.

So what I’m dealing with here is the vast ability of humans to adapt to conditions, to find ways to get by under any system. Most humans, anyway.

Where and how and when do the lines in the sand get drawn? Do some people have no lines at all, or see no need for them? Do the lines more often only become evident in the heat of a situation that threatens to become intolerable, for instance when one’s children are about to be taken away?

What causes some people to draw lines beyond which they will not go? I get the sense that lately, with National ID and NAIS and all that encroaching, many of us are thinking that we have impermeable moral boundaries, but worrying that when the time comes, we’ll cave.

I’m sure not certain that I’ll have the strength and courage to refuse when finally faced with National ID. And yet I think all of us who desire freedom have some depth of courage in us that knows it will make its stand someday, who knows how or when, but the courage is there and will prevail.

Does everyone have that courage in some way, when the right combination of chips are down? If not, what makes us different? What do they have that we lack?

The deeper I get into the planning and plotting of this novel, the more I realize how central questions such as these are to the heart of the story and its theme – which is “the unquenchable urge to live free.” This whole project is turning out to be much wider and more complex than I expected. I’ve got a lot of thinking to do.

Wow, here’s what I’ve been hoping to see. People waking up after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation to the useless, high-handed, head-tripping, slow-as-the-Mississippi, control-freakish nature of the Fedbeast…

And it’s Mayor Ben Morris of Slidell, Louisiana, no less! Telling FEMA that they’d “better bring weapons” if they try again to come take his storm-stricken town’s generators, or tell them where they’re “allowed” to place them.

Note that the link points to an MP3 file. Thanks to Alton Speers over at the shiny new Claire Files Forums for the link.

Okay, this isn’t really Outlaw-focused. And I don’t usually follow the news. But I’ve always been fascinated by storms, and Katrina is a doozie. And since I’m also into being prepared and smart and ahead of the game, I’ve been watching how people are reacting to the hurricane’s impending arrival.

From Yahoo!/AFP (link to full story in post title):

…Others though seemed more relaxed about the storm.

Richard Prisco, a 30-year-old New York lawyer stranded in New Orleans on his way home from a cruise, joked that he had “met these lovely ladies from Canada. We’re going to save them,” as he waited in the posh bar of the W hotel for the approaching storm.

Lovely lady number one piped in.

“When we start crying they’re going to comfort us,” Robin Raxlin, 29, explained as she lay on a square sofa, Red Bull in hand.

The gang at the W hotel have only known each other a couple days, but they say it feels like “forever.” There are inside jokes. Flirtations. Stories about their adventures at the bars of Bourbon Street.

While the storm may have brought these new friends together, it tore Prisco’s group apart. Of the four who set off for the cruise, just three remained in New Orleans. One headed for the highway in a huff and hasn’t been heard from since.

“He was furious with us because he feels we did not try hard enough to get out of here,” Prisco said. “We heard from a friend of a friend he hitched a ride with some people. They made it about sixty miles in eight hours.”

Oh, cripes. So, the ones who’d just rather party on at the funky-mod upscale W hotel, and pretend to be men “saving” distressed ladies, call the one “huffy” who’s got the brains and initiative to get the hell out of there. They laugh off his warnings and determination to act.

Who’s the real friend? The one who saved his own butt and tried to get his three buddies to go with him? Or the three who chose to hang outthrough a deadly storm, and waste money at a chichi urban hotel, with girls they’d only just met, and let their pal find his own way in a life-threatening emergency?

On a much more sensible and praiseworthy note, here’s Plinker-MS’s “Hurricane Katrina Diary” with some excellent real-time preparation details (and a thanks for the mention of something I wrote!). It’s so good that I can’t find a quote to snip and paste here. Read the whole thing!

One of the feisty fellows over at The Claire Files Forums put up a searching entry tonight. He had been reading a Murray Rothbard piece from 1993, exhorting freedom-lovers to fight the system, loud-and-proud, and never to say die.  Then NMC_EXP wrote:

“I am teetering between ‘fighting the long defeat’ or hunkering down and waiting for leviathan to collapse and die of its own weight. Rothbard says continue to resist. My heart and mind tell me this fight will only serve to make me ‘crazy and old before my time’.”

I read the Rothbard piece and found myself rather angered by it, actually. So I replied to NMC_EXP:

What it comes down to is…what does it mean to “do battle against that evil?” And that’s what each of us must decide alone.

I have come to the choice to gulch because…I have realized that most people don’t WANT freedom. But I do, and I must have it. I may only have it for a few days or weeks or years yet. There’s no way to know.

Shall I use these most productive years of my precious life striving to convince those who don’t wish to hear such a message? Shall I use my life’s energy fighting to be heard, in a political system that is intent upon crushing those who think like me and yearn for real freedom? Shall I stick my neck out among them, so that they may better reach it with the blade of their guillotine? I think not.

But…Don’t confuse leaving the political fight with giving in. I haven’t given in, I’ve merely chosen to specialize, to focus my efforts toward achieving the life I want with people who want the same. The fight isn’t less real just because others don’t see or hear you fighting, or aren’t converted to your side.

Have you read Atlas Shrugged? Many of us are, right now, at the point of choice that Dagny and Rearden faced. What is right? How do I know? Only through our own individual, deep knowing and understanding can we make the choice and decide the timing and details. Even Rearden kept going for quite some time after he realized the economy was in a hopeless state.

Those of us who want freedom must take it, because if we wait for others to grant it to us, we will be waiting ourselves into our graves. But…that doesn’t preclude us from fighting in a very different way, as Galt and Francisco and Ragnar did…reaching out quietly, with passion and fellowship, to those who want what we want and can grasp what we’ve grasped.

As for the others, they may never be able or willing to grasp it, much less to embrace it. Your life is yours. You choose your own fight, you choose where to put your precious energy. You don’t sound like one to give in or to give up.

I really like what Claire Wolfe added:
“There are plenty of ways to do battle. And one is to ‘contend without contending.’

We can hurl ourselves at the walls of evil until we’re beaten and bruised and can do no more. Or we can center ourselves, focus, and quietly burrow through or beneath … or fly over the walls.

Think of the state as the Maginot Line. Impregnable, but …”

I’m intrigued by this whole line of thinking because…it’s occurring to me tonight that the heroes of Atlas Shrugged – John Galt, Francisco d’Anconia, Ragnar Danneskjold, Hank Rearden, Dagny Taggart, and others – are outstanding fictional examples of the kind of Outlaw I think we need to be – the kind I want to be.

They did not choose to live above the law. They chose to live outside of it – outside the reach of that which sought to ruin, maim, muzzle, mooch off, defraud, and kill them. They chose to be Outlaws. Smart. Sensible. Independent. Free. And cheerful.

And I’m more and more convinced lately that we are capable of just the same, in attitude and in action. Our scale may be smaller, our budgets tighter, our struggles less epic than theirs. And…we might not win in the end in the way they did.

But we truly, truly are seeing that book come true in our time. It’s frankly rather eerie just how pat it all seems, like a spoof that’s actually not a spoof. And that means, to me, that it isn’t farfetched at all to imagine ourselves doing the sorts of things they did, with the same kind of style and success.

Kinda cool, actually. And, come to think of it, I could get into that black satin gown and black velvet cape thing as part of my Outlaw costume.

Today I attended a presentation of live music and dance, promoting the coming celebration of the 400th anniversary of the English settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, which will take place in 2007. The concept, roughly, was to bring together representatives of the three cultures and races that lived on those shores so long ago. I watched as Indians danced their mysterious rhythmic steps and called their high, wailing cries, and as gospel singers intoned old slave spirituals, heartrending sounds of loss and separation, oppression and pain.

And I looked on as teenaged boys tricked out in Revolutionary garb, the fifers and drummers of Colonial Williamsburg, performed a perfectly executed medley of march and battle tunes with their rat-tatting percussion and sweet piercing trills. I marveled at their faces under tricornered hats, young earnest faces which, one and all, could have been lifted from an 18th century painting.

Faces that should have been laughing with girls and grinning with boyish enjoyment of life, but that were, this day, prematurely solemn and weighty with trouble…not only because of the challenging performance they provided the audience, but because, I think, they were trained to imagine themselves doing the job done by their counterparts two centuries ago: portending with their instruments the onslaught of deafening explosions, acrid smoke, screams and killing, the slaughter of men by men.

And the faces were not merely concentrating on a difficult task – they gave the impression of being inured and hardened to some vast tragedy surrounding them, the kind of blank, bleak defensive barrier that battlefield denizens quickly develop in order to bear the terror occurring around them.

It was an eerie and unsettling feeling. For, along with the sorrows I heard in the music of the Indians and the Africans, this sadness of impending doom was palpable in the air. And what it said to me was that we are soon to face this same tragedy again, that we are already facing it now in faraway lands, and that those of us who love and will defend liberty may be the ones boys like these next serenade onto fields of blood here at home…or, worse, that the roles could be reversed.

Why, why have humans not yet learned to live and let live? Why must and will governments use the vitally alive young people living within their borders to kill and maim the young people of other places on earth? Why must slavery and oppression and torture and misery be inflicted by so many with such perennial vengeance?

I came so close to weeping then and there. With a vast sorrow, with bitter anger, with the frenetic wish to throw myself in the path of any power-drunk slimeball of the current elite who quite blithely grasps at the loveliness that is another’s life, tears it to filthy shreds with a casual, cold chuckle, then smirks, “Next!”

I know this isn’t a helpful message to you Outlaws, and I apologize. It was a very emotional morning, and I’m still searching for the kernel of the experience that might give rise to some useful action plan. All I know at the moment is that such a plan is a desperate need right now…for we are about to relive the bloody and tragic history I saw portrayed this morning.