I've been trying to figure out a way to display a list of all the entries at the site on a page using MovableType, and I finally stumbled upon it when repairing the way the home page was displaying. The page has existed all along, I just hadn't caught on to that fact.
It's really good news that I found it -- it makes for a good flyover view of the site. And now that I found that page, I can work with it to make category and date-based pages that have the list of links like this one. Some of my entries are pretty long, and often there's not a lot of rhyme or reason to any given grouping of them. All the archive pages now display a big long page of entry after entry, making it less likely that readers will find the entries that best suit them, particularly as the site grows over the years.
Now you can get from one end of the site to the other all on one page:
That's probably not the lasting title for the page...I've got to come up with something better. I'm sorting through the options...mostly I'm just glad to have found it. Also, it's all the entries, but not quite all the pages. There are still a few pages from the old setup that I haven't converted into blog entries yet, plus there are entries from the two other blogs on the site that aren't on that page. I should be able to make an integrated page (with all the entries in all three blogs) soon.
I've added a link to this page under "Archives" in the right column of the site.
I've all-but 100% decided that I'm not going to go to Burning Man this year. There's a whole collection of pros and cons and factors which have led me to that decision, but I don't think it'd be terribly interesting if I detailed the whole decision-making process. Every version I envision would spiral into a long drawn-out thing. This year I was planning to do a campaign camp there, so that was the main value that I weighed on the "pro" side. Ultimately I decided that missing this year wouldn't be that much of a loss in that respect, and that the combined weight of what the trip would keep me from accomplishing here at home, plus a number of negative factors, outweighed the pros. I say all-but 100% decided because there's still a short period of time where divine intervention or outrageous fortune or something could shift the scales enough that I might go, maybe just for a few days (instead of the full week). I doubt it though.
Now that I've effectively decided not to go this year, a monstrous and daunting to-do list of Burning Man-related things floats conveniently away. In previous years that I've gone, BM has consumed as much as $2000, and the better part of both August and September timewise (in preparation, then re-assimilation). Remarkably, I'd say it was worth it all those times -- and I unreservedly encourage anyone who's thinking about going to do so if they can -- but there's still a big wave of relief associated with not having to deal with it this year.
I'm still surveying the new, simpler near-future that lays before me, but one shift will likely be that I'm going to try and hit the road in some form sooner. Not sooner than Burning Man, but sooner than I was going to do post-Burning Man. This will probably amount to a shorter trip (like to Southern California to meet with the South Park guys (if they're willing) perhaps, and back), to test out my motorhome-with-pets model, followed by a longer trip across the country and back. So far I'm thinking that longer trip will include stops in Colorado, to meet with friend and libertarian colleague Troy Dayton, and also Mark Richer, the owner of PeoplesForum.com's web hosting company Ableminds -- who, strangely enough, I have never met in person after 5 years of doing business together. I'll also be stopping in North Carolina, where I have a sister, a brother-in-law, and a niece and nephew that I haven't seen in too long. And I'll spend a while in Massachusetts, where I have a matching set of that list of relatives, plus my mother. (As well as friends in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and I think Connecticut.)
That's probably a sketch of the first leg right there, though I'm pretty flexible. The main objective of the trip is to get a good feel for living, working, and functioning effectively out of the motorhome that I intend to use as my "campaign bus" for the next year or two -- and to see what I need to do to really make the most of it and smooth out the bumps. I'll be glad to meet with some folks along the way, but I don't necessarily expect to be fully functional, and I'll be doing a lot of adjusting to the RV lifestyle.
After a while in New England, I'll head back to my house here, which I hope to keep residency at for the indefinite future. The shape of the trip back is wide open at this point, and depends on a multitude of factors -- how long I've been on the road by then, how well the west-east trip went, and lots of others.
This is all just starting to take its newly-adjusted shape, but I'm guessing/hoping that the first short test trip will be in September, and if that goes o.k., the cross-country test trip would be in late September or October, and the return leg would start right about when it starts feeling like winter in the Northeast -- November or so.
If all that goes well, I could do a full-bore campaign loop starting early next year, which would include helping with a few spring semester openings at some colleges, followed by haunting the 2004 primary states (and events) through spring.
I found out a few days ago that a good friend of mine from back East, Bob Garceau, passed away on July 4th. He was 30 years old, and he died after having triple bypass surgery on his heart. It's hard to comprehend, really, and from what his wife told me, it doesn't get any clearer with increased detail. A series of events over the course of a few days led to my young and generally strong friend dying in a hospital bed while recovering from surgery. It's that simple and that shocking, and I think that's part of what makes it hard to comprehend.
Adding many layers to the sadness of the situation is the fact that he had a brand new family blooming, with a wife of a few years, a baby boy, and a baby girl on the way. Bob was a great guy -- he was a hard worker, he was friendly, and smart, and aware. Although my actual time spent with Bob was spotty throughout the years, we have gotten along really well for a long time. The last time I talked to him was a couple of years ago, when he and his wife were in Southern California, trying to settle on where to settle down. He was supposed to swing up here and visit me, maybe even stick around here, but it turns out that an illness in his family drew him back to Massachusetts right around then. I didn't know how or where to reach him, and basically just waited to hear from him, assuming that some turn of events had taken him off course. I had been bugging Bob for years to move out of his hometown/homecounty, almost to the point of argument at times, so after a while I laid off completely. I figured he'd call me when he had it worked out, which he did...and I figured he'd call again when he worked out whatever kept him away when he almost made it here. Neither of us worried about it too hard, because, well, we're 30 -- and when you're 30 you don't generally go around thinking you could just up and die sometime soon. You figure you've got plenty of time to get around to whatever it is you haven't gotten around to.
And maybe you do, and maybe you don't.
This has been a week of deep thought and reflection for me -- frustrating, brow-furrowing reflection, and sadness. I wish I could say that I've come away with some profound revelation on the mysteries of life, but I've really just come away bummed about Bob, and his poor wife and kids.
Confounding reflection about life and mortality and the loss of a friend has been the main thing that's kept me from posting something new here. I didn't think I could just keep posting without saying something about losing my friend, and I have been just waiting to see if anything particularly edifying was taking shape.
Nope. Really, the only thing that has come to mind in the form of enlightenment is this bizarre poem I wrote some number of years ago, called "Down Days". It's the heat that brought it to mind at first -- the heat here has been absolutely stifling -- but in some sense, it really fits with my train of thought these past few days since I found out my old friend is gone...which is to say, confused, wandering, and maudlin.
I wrote the poem during some other brutal heat spell years back, and like many of my poems, it basically wrote itself. It stands just as it was originally written -- I'm generally reluctant to edit the poems that write themselves. It's a pretty silly poem -- particularly with the bizarro end part that I can't move myself to remove -- but I've always had some affection for it for some reason. And it floated into my consciousness as I've been plodding around sweating and pondering mortality and loss this week. I won't post it here -- it's not very presidential -- but you can read it here if you want. It's about how wack life can be, I guess. Plus some weird thing about a guy named Murray.
Anyway, here's to Bob Garceau, who was a good guy, and taken way too soon, and too quickly.
Bob's wife, who I had never met, thought to find me and let me know, because she said Bob referred to me a lot when he got ranting about politics, and stuff he saw on the news. He was big into philosophy and politics, which is a big part of why we got along so well. She also said that he had been very excited when he and I briefly connected when he was in California.
While I took a full break from posting here, I have been posting the occasional news story (or 15) over at The Little Brown Reader, and I've been putting a little extra zing in some of my comments there, in honor of Bob. There were a few items there that I considered posting here, but I held off. Here are some links in case you want to explore:
Conflict of Interest, For Sale or Rent
(A concise summary of the American political and governance system.)
Bush Welfare Marriage Plan Sailing Through Congress
(Wherein I rant sarcastically about social engineering.)
Reading While Bearded: Another FBI Visit
(A first person story (not by me) about a visit from the FBI for reading a suspcious newspaper op-ed.)
There are a lot of other good new stories posted there too, but those are the three that I considered almost substantial enough to post here on their own.
I had a fun night last Friday, working the table for the Nevada County Libertarian Party at the Friday Night Market in Grass Valley. It's a weekly street market thing, where all sorts of vendors put booths out, and the streets are closed to traffic. There's a band, and lots of families and other folks come to just be sociable, check out the vendors, etc. Political groups get to set up a booth for free, and we're aiming to have one every week this summer -- last Friday was the first one. About 75 people took The World's Smallest Political Quiz, which is our main attraction at the table. Folks take the quiz, then get scored, and their scores place them on this "political map" chart. People were really enthusiastic, and a healthy chunk of them scored in the libertarian quadrant on the chart. And there was lots of spirited debate, as usual. Here's a picture of our Vice-Chairman Bob Glassco posing next to the chart.
In other news, Janet Daglet Dagley finally got directly in touch with me, and invited me to be the guest on the debut episode of her new radio show "Radio Free Blogosphere." Very cool! And you may remember when her article came out a while back I mentioned that it was going to be part of AIRSPACE's newsletter. That newsletter's out now -- you can check it out here. The name of the article is "Do You Belong in the Blogosphere?" If you already saw the article, it's the same as it was, so no need to look again unless you want to.
Much of this month is going to be dedicated to planning and preparing for the Nevada County Libertarian Party's upcoming booth at the County Fair. It's the single biggest outreach opportunity of the year, and I'm hyper-interested in making the most of it for the party. I just had a meeting with the core group about it tonight, and we didn't get nearly as much done as I had hoped. We got a little of the groundwork out of the way, though.
While I'm updating you -- you may recall Blogarama, which was a new blog directory that lists things according to click-throughs and popularity. When I first mentioned it, this site was in the top 600 of their "Cool" section. A month later, it's #68 out of 2,671. And in their Politics/Government section, it's #4 of 141, showing up on the first screen of that section. Click on the Blogarama link above to help push it up higher, and post a review of the site here if you're so inclined. I appreciate your support, and while it may seem trivial, these things make a difference.
And of course there's the 'ol Top 25 Libertarian Sites list -- this site is now #11! Climbing up the ranks on that list is going to be much slower going from here on out, because the folks above have many, many clicks. But each step up that ladder increases the chances of the campaign raising eyebrows among the libertarian movement. So, click early, click often! ;-)
Lastly, I mentioned the other day that Tom Knapp from Rational Review had issued a call to libertarians, urging them to work to create the institutions that will support a free society. I had posted about his call over at The Little Brown Reader, and I made mention of Future Solutions, my organization whose very purpose is to create such institutions. Well, Tom saw what I said there, and he posted a comment:
I can't tell you how pleased I am to see you mention Future Solutions in the context of point 4 of Rational Review's program. Your project is one of several which have previously sparked this line of thinking with me, and which ultimately ended up inspiring the point in question!
There's little I enjoy more than helping to inspire, so his comment was very nice to read. :-)
You're not likely to find someone who's more opposed to the modern American system of education than me. Technically, I don't think you could, because I'm completely and utterly opposed to it.
There are two issues that I am more adamant and solid on than any others, I think, and those two would be the drug war (I'm against it) and the modern American education system. I say "modern American education system" instead of "public schooling" or "the American school system", because there are defintely bright spots out there in the school system. But all of those bright spots -- homeschooling, charter schools, vouchers, and Internet education -- are things that go against the grain of the system I'm talking about.
I don't think it's necessarily confined to public schools either. I'm sure there are many private schools that are doing their own thing, but I'm also sure there are many who are doing much the same thing as most public schools -- that being, dragging a bunch of kids into huge buildings with dozens of classrooms and hundreds of students, 20-30 to a classroom, and ringing bells every so often, and herding the kids this way and that, and so on. That is the modern American education system I'm talking about.
I've written at length about how the very structure and culture of schools leads to inevitable, deeply damaging problems, and I've written at some length about how the educational structure of a single-teacher classroom is essentially guaranteed to only tap into a tiny amount of any kid's learning potential, if any at all -- and how there could be a way we could get that amount a lot closer to 100%. So I won't go into those issues too deeply -- you can read either of those articles to see where I'm coming from. I'm really writing to introduce to you an article I just read -- probably the best newspaper article I've ever seen about homeschooling (and unschooling). But I'd be remiss if I didn't wax eloquent with some thoughts on it all, while we're on the subject.
As I was saying, opposition to our "education" system is a big issue for me. I don't have a single good thing to say about it -- to me, it's a fundamentally flawed model, if the aim is to produce educated, intelligent young adults who are best prepared for their adult lives. A lot of education scholars, particularly folks in the "opposition" like me, will tell you that that's not what the modern model was intended to do -- that instead, it was designed to produce a dependable flow of docile, obedient workers who could be easily trained to do simple reptitive tasks; and that it came along in concert (and partnership) with the advent of mass production and the factory boom.
Now, if that was the goal, then our system was perfectly designed, at least as long as it was keeping pace with the workforce needs of the economy. Of course, it fell out of pace, right about during my time in school, as the Information Age sent the Industrial Age packing. But that hardly matters -- because that shouldn't be the goal of our educational system. It still is, though the parameters have shifted a bit. Prepping kids for the workforce is still the plan, even though anyone who tells you they know what the workforce is going to look like when these kids are adults is lying outright.
Aside from that fatal flaw, the system is struggling urgently with the pains of bureaucracy -- it's this big national beast, increasingly micromanaged from the top, with so many layers of power struggle on the way down that it's probably impossible to map. Down at the bottom, teachers and principals, with their metaphorical arms and legs chopped off by the many layers above, try to manage what is essentially a big, crowded educational prison -- often with inadequate or shoddy materials, with little control over curriculum, and with each having anywhere from 60 to 150 kids a semester under their surrogate care.
And the mission of schools has gone far beyond readin', writin', and 'rithmetic, or even science, history, and civics. Because they are essentially acting as part-time parents of these kids, a whole host of non-curricular issues come up -- sexuality, spirituality, character, ethics, hate, rage, violence, pregnancy, and so on. And what is it exactly they're supposed to be doing for the kids? Do you think that any two people would give the same answer to that question? Are we trying to make them better learners, better workers, more likely to get into college, or are we trying to improve their character, or their physical strength and dexterity, or their social skills? Or all of those things? And what sort of workers was it we want them to be again? Tech workers? Medical professionals? Historians? Zoologists? Politicians? Wouldn't each of those professions involve developing different skills and subjects, even before age 18? It did, for hundreds of years before the 20th century.
If I had stayed in high school for 12th grade, I would have been taking pretty much what all the smart 12th graders took -- AP Math, AP Physics, AP English, and some filler stuff, plus Phys Ed. I had already taken almost every English class my school offered -- I took two and a half years of English one year -- and that was the only the only subject I cared for. Those "AP" classes were "Advanced Placement", which is basically a dedicated year of teaching to a test -- the Advanced Placement test. My AP U.S. History teacher drove herself nearly crazy year after year trying to prepare kids for that test, while trying to also teach them something about history.
So basically there was one class that I would actually have enjoyed at all, and that one was corrupted by being geared specifically toward a standardized test. I would have had one or two study halls a day. Utimately I only had some miniscule amount of credits left to earn, and (if I recall correctly) Phys Ed was my only class requirement that wasn't filled. That's what our public education system had to offer me for 12th grade. I had been out of my mind with boredom in school for 11 years, and it seemed like the last one was going to be the worst yet.
Thankfully, two different places with a little more sense took it upon themselves to get in touch with me, and I ended up going to the University of Southern California's early entry program. My high school protested a bit, but not as much as they might have for someone else. Actually, most of the authority figures in my school were probably breathing record-breaking sighs of relief. I was an excellent student with a volatile attitude, and that can be a lot of trouble for teachers and school administrators. And it was.
But I digress, a lot. I wanted to respond to my own statement that I have not one good thing to say about the modern American educational system. Many people respond to that suggestion with something like "You must admit that some good things come from school -- that some kids come out having added some value of some sort." And yes, I'll concede that. While my K-12 education probably amounts to less than 2% of my total education, I did learn a few useful things in school.
The way I see it, it's like a glass of cloudy, muddy water, with a jagged rim. If the government went and gave all the country's kids 8 cups a day of muddy pondwater in glasses with sharp, jagged rims, some good would come from it. After all, water is one of the best substances on earth, and even muddy and gross it has a lot going for it. My dogs drink muddy water just like it's normal, and it doesn't ever seem to hurt them. If any one of us was truly parched and had no other choice, we'd gulp down pond or puddle water like it was the fountain of life -- and in all likelihood, it would be. It would do that good thing water does, and the mud and muck probably wouldn't hurt you much, if at all.
And about that jagged edge on the glass. Well, first of all, not all the glasses would be totally jagged, per se -- some would just have a chip or a little crack, or a sharp area or two that would be easy to avoid. And plus, kids would learn to be cautious and controlled -- and cuts and scrapes are part of growing up anyway. And you can't really expect a national kidwater system to be perfect, particularly when you're using glasses as the delivery method.
Besides, kids need water -- they'll die without it. And the impurities in pondwater seldom cause any serious harm to internal organs. And parents can't be expected to take time off work to follow their kids around all day and make sure they get water. Plus, making these kids stay at the water depot all day teaches them discipline and how to behave themselves, and standing in long lines teaches them patience.
See, there's tons of good to a system like that!
In a certain twisted way, it's all true. Not just some, but a lot of good would come from giving our nation's kids 8 jagged glasses of muddy pondwater a day. Millions of kids would be internally cleansed and refreshed, and their young bodies would soak up that water like it was the fountain of life, which it is (to a body). It's probably more water then they drink now, and it's a good amount of water to drink. But it should be crystal clear that that would be a horrible plan -- nothing that anyone in their right mind would choose. There's so much negative and wrong about it that it's not even worth considering.
Jagged glasses of muddy water could bring inestimable amounts of good, but no human on earth would choose one over a nice smooth cup of clear spring water.
The metaphor breaks down like this: Learning, or education, is water; the jagged glass is our educational system, after a century of wear and tear; the mud is the bureaucracy and anti-learning dogma that has seeped into almost every pore of the system; the government is the government; and the kids with bleeding lips and gastric problems are kids like the Columbine killers, and the teens who don't know the three branches of our government, and the victims of "zero tolerance" policies, and the kid in every other sad school story that rides the headlines (or doesn't).
So I'll correct my statement. There are good things I could say about the educational system, but it would make no more sense to say them than it would to defend the benefits of mandatory universal pondwater for children.
If you somehow made it all the way through this, then you should enjoy a shocking contrast by reading the article below. It tells stories of learning and child development that you will seldom see coming out of the vast majority of youth learning institutions in this country. Actually, that's not technically true, since there are now millions of home schools, each a unique learning institution in its own right.
If you are already into homeschooling (or unschooling), read this article and glow with recognition and pride. If you're considering it, read this article and tip the scales. If you're a skeptic, read it and have your skepticism challenged. If you intend to form an opinion about homeschooling at any point in the future, you should read this article.
I wanted to post an entry about my first (silly) personal encounter with the "USA-PATRIOT Act", when conveniently the ACLU wrote to ask me to write my congresspeople a letter about it. I dumped most of their suggested form letter, and ended up going for the throat in a pretty surly letter. (I actually meant to dump all of it, but just noticed that I left the first pre-written sentences in.)
My congresspeople are Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, government-loving sellouts, and Representative John Doolittle, a meddling conservative Republican who voted for the proposed anti-flag burning amendment (maybe someday I'll show you the letter I wrote to him on that one). I don't expect any of them to lift a finger to do anything about the USA-PATRIOT Act anytime soon. Feinstein and Boxer both voted for it, and Doolittle probably wishes he was in office then so he could have.
So my letter is pretty cynical and harsh. I think there's a slight chance that John Doolittle actually reads his e-mails, and with luck he'll click on either of those links and wake up just a smidgen. The subject line of my letter was "Wasting my time, surely".
Here it is:
As your constituent, I urge you to support corrections to the USA PATRIOT
Act, investigative guidelines and other government actions that threaten
civil liberties. Congress must act to ensure government powers are in line
with the guarantees of the Bill of Rights.
I don't expect for a minute that you will take any sort of action to
reform or repeal the USA-PATRIOT Act, but I would be negligent if I didn't
at least try.
Many provisions in the USA-PATRIOT Act are blatantly in violation of the
Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If you took the time to read it, you
would see that yourself.
I've finally been impacted by the "Patriot Act" in my own life, in a silly
and obstructive way. I have an account with a service called c2it -- it's
a paypal-like service run by Citibank. I made one small transaction
through their service over a year ago, and haven't used it since. I've
decided I don't trust them with my private info (they have my SS#, my
mother's maiden name, my birthdate, address, bank account numbers, etc.),
and yesterday I tried to get them to purge my information from their
records. They refused, and cited the USA-PATRIOT Act as one of their
justifications for keeping that info. The guy conceded that I was clearly
not using the account for money laundering or terrorism, but he didn't
care. So now a company whose practices I don't trust has some of my most
private personal info.
You might also want to read this article "Patriot Raid":
It's a first-person account of a raid that was conducted on a restaurant
in NYC, and it's quite revealing. The raid produced no fruit in terms of
law enforcement, but it did threaten and violate the many victims of it,
including restaurant workers and patrons.
While you're at it, read my article "The USA-PATRIOT Axe", where I
challenge supporters of the Act to face up to the reality of what they're
supporting. Here it is:
Both articles are reasonably short, and provide interesting perspectives
you should keep in mind as you abandon your responsibility to the
Constitution and shy away from the necessary step of reversing the foul
This is the part where the ACLU form letter says "I look forward to
hearing your thoughts on the issue." I don't look forward to that,
however. I look forward to your press release announcing your vocal
opposition to the USA-PATRIOT Act and the DSEA, called Patriot II by most.
Patriot II is like most sequels -- it's lamer, with less substance than
I posted the ACLU's e-mail as an action item over at E-Actions for Freedom, so drop your own congressfolk a line if you're so inclined. You might want to be slightly less rash and spiteful than I. ;-)
My essay "The Essential Hurdle for Libertarians" has been published as an article on LibertyForAll.net, one of the more prominent libertarian e-zines. You can see it here. Not bad for something I wrote almost by accident! :-)
Lance Brown, a libertarian running for the presidency in 2008 (No, that's not a typo. That's the first election in which he'll be eligible to run in virtue of his age.), has an excellent piece on what liberals and libertarians have in common, and why it's so hard to convince a liberal to abandon government as a solution to everything. Here's the part that really resonated with me:
...[the part that resonated with her]...
I've never understood the logic of liberalism. It seems to be something like, "Of course this government does a bad job at nearly everything it tries, but if we get a different government, one populated by good liberals, then government will be great." Of course, we've had very liberal governments in the past, just as we've had very conservative governments, and the same ineptitude pervades, but no matter, because this time will be different. It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result. Draw your own conclusions.
I agree with liberals that most people are basically good, and that it's morally good to help people for no reason other than that they are in need and I have the means to help, and that no child should go to bed hungry, and that we should preserve our environment, and that no one should discriminate against anyone else based on arbitrary demographic characteristics. The only thing I disagree with them about is their beliefs that we should try to use government, a tool which has been proven to fail, to achieve those goals, and that it's okay to use force against some people in an effort to make things better for others. And I'm baffled by the fact that other people don't see just how wrong they are.
There was an interesting series of comments posted there (well, two interesting ones), so you might want to go over and check it out.
Also, the editor of the Libertarian Today Message Board posted a big excerpt from and link to my article, and a little discussion has spawned off of that. The positive comment was by Bruce White, who said:
I agree entirely.America simply MUST get away from this constant see/saw back and forth between conservatives and liberals--each taking their turn at the public trough and basically doing nothing for the grassroots people because they would rather not shake up the big money power brokers.Stand with,stand for,America the GREAT.Thanks
The negative comment was from Vin Rosa:
You lost me irretrievably with your first paragraph:
"My mother is a Democrat -- a Massachusetts Kennedy Democrat. That's a special breed of Democrat -- one who holds onto the romantic vision of JFK and RFK, and the whole Kennedy feeling, and wraps that around their view of the Democratic Party, then tops it off with pride in being from the veritable bastion of Kennedy Democraticism, Massachusetts."
"Special," all right. Subservient monarchists who continually hand power to a clan that long ago declared itself above the law.
"Romantic vision?" Looks like you bought the BS hook, line and sinker.
My reply is titled "Re: me buying the BS", and goes like this:
I'm sorry you weren't able to get past the fact that my mother is a Democrat. I'm not sure what makes you think I have bought any "BS", but I make it clear where my political allegiance lies -- with the Libertarian Party. I believe strongly in libertarian principles, and my hope is to make them as universally accepted as possible.
The only way libertarian principles will achieve their deserved dominance in America and elsewhere is if we can show people that libertarian principles will bring about the things most people want. There is no way a majority of the country will take the leap of faith that we ask of them without being convinced that A) our policies won't ruin the country (or state, county, etc.), and B) our policies will bring them to the America they desire. That's what most people care about, and that's what motivates most people's votes. And the burden of proof is on us to convince a majority of people that the libertarian plan meets both of those criteria.
We need to show them proof in current events, when we can, and we need to show them proof in a vision of America that people find believable.
By the way, my mother is more of a libertarian than a Democrat in her beliefs...she's just unable to give up on the sales pitch of the Democratic Party. And of course she has the same fearful reserve as most people do when we talk about ending public schools, or the Drug War, or income tax. She has a hard time seeing things being another way -- most people do -- and I firmly believe that improving our ability to get people to see the future America that we see is of critical imprtance to our political success.
My good friend Gina also wrote me wondering just how it is that a libertarian society is going to take care of the niceties (and not-so-niceties) involved in keeping this country ticking. By which I mean ticking like a Swiss watch, not like a past-due time bomb, as it currently is.
[Note to FBI -- that's a metaphor, not a threat.]
I'm putting together a mega-essay about Green Liberty, which is my term for the confluence of libertarian principles and liberal/green values. It's going to be a while in the making, but I've got about 4 pages, mostly outline, done. I think it's going to be pretty long by the time I'm done with it. I'm also putting together a list of the elements that comprise the "safety net", or the basic functions that people expect from a society. Tom Knapp at Rational Review has issued a call for libertarians to work to create the social structures and institutions that will be needed to support a libertarian society. That's basically the mission statement of Future Solutions, my non-profit project. That project, along with its flagship effort The Free School on the Internet, have taken a backseat to my company PeoplesForum.com for many years now, but as I mentioned in The Little Brown Reader, the seating arrangement is in the process of changing. So I'm working on a list of problems and liberty-respecting solutions.
As always, I'll keep you posted. :-)
I called in during C-Span's Washington Journal on the 4th of July, when they were taking calls about the U.S.'s planned military tribunals. I'm heartily against the tribunals, which is what I said, along with making the point that it's a pretty sad statement on our existing federal justice system, if it's not sufficient to handle certain types of cases. It's basically saying that sometimes we need to make exceptions to the rights of the accused as outlined in the Bill of Rights. Why? What's wrong with the Bill of Rights?
I learned one thing from my call-in -- don't ask questions. The hosts at C-Span never state opinions, so when you ask a question (even a rhetorical one, as mine were), it makes for a dead spot in the conversation. The hostess helped me out the second time, by coming back with "What do you think?" in response to my question.
Your best bet on C-Span is to either just have a short simple statement, say it, and sign off, or to write down your points as fully as you can while you're on hold. In my experience, you get a minute or two of waiting before you go on, and instead of just pacing around getting nervous, it's better to at least bullet-point the main things you want to say. It's even better to write out the sentences, because if you stall or get off-track, you could stumble, and they usually keep the most articulate (and verbose) people on the longest. There's a maximum time for all callers, but whether you get that whole time or not depends on whether you fill it up well. I only did OK with my time, and my on-air stint was correspondingly short. But some callers get on for a few minutes or more.
People who watch C-Span are generally people who take public affairs pretty seriously. They are a good audience to persuade. I don't know how many people watch it on any given morning, but it's more than just a couple.
So call in! They have call-in periods at other times, like during important votes, after important speeches, and other times. You can e-mail (and fax I think) in too, but calls get the most attention, and make for better persuasion. (Although with textual comments you can be careful to say exactly what you want.) The phone number isn't always the same (often there are different lines for different sides of a debate), and you should know what they're talking about currently before calling in, so I won't post a phone number here. Just tune in. C-Span often isn't as boring as you'd think. The live coverage of Congress usually is, but most of the rest of their programming is really interesting, if you care about the topic. They show all sorts of different forums by various organizations, and you'll see lots of frank and critical stuff -- critical of anything and everything, depending on the forum in question. C-Span is one of my favorite networks, and one of the most educational channels on television. I watch something on C-Span nearly every day, and it's always one of my stops when channel surfing -- because you never know what might be on.
Don't have cable? Go to C-span.org, and dig through their massive archives. Or watch it live online -- that way you can still call in. :-)
I'm going to post another short entry about my article at LibertyForAll, because the two items don't blend well into one post.
The site has gotten some attention in various quarters, and I want to give thanks and acknowledgement where it's due.
I mentioned the Dagley Dagley Daily a while back, when Janet Dagley Dagley noted the campaign in her essay. Apparently she has liked what she's seen, because she put links to this blog and The Little Brown Reader under "Some of our favorite blogs".
I've posted 107 entries in the latter blog already, and it's been noticed by at least a few people. I know that because Mark at Artic Zoo also took note, and saw Dinesh D'Souza's "What's So Great About America" when I posted about it over there. It inspired him to post an old essay of his about Adam Smith and the rights of man. It looks quite thoughtful, though I haven't been able to give it the concentration needed to read it yet. Give it a look!
Many thanks to Sean, Janet, and Mark, and everyone else who's taking notice and spreading the word. I'll be adding them to my new links section, which I'm building slowly behind the scenes.
Next entry: I called C-Span, and you should too. Plus: "The Essential Hurdle for Libertarians" in LibertyForAll!
I want to share a mix of things I've been reading on and around this Independence Day. They all tie in to the same theme, in their own way.
In this must-read essay, Dinesh D'Souza explains what it is that draws people from other countries to America. He calls it "self-determination" and "the pursuit of happiness", both of which support my belief that what draws people to America is freedom. Not wealth or welfare, but the promise of individual liberty.
This chronology of Thomas Edison's inventions and projects shows the amazing potential of unrestrained human energy. This is a shorter version from the same source, and here's a version that's got a lot more narrative detail, but might not be quite as reliable with the hard facts. And here's one from Edison Elementary School that's got narrative and is probably pretty reliable.
Any of those, or any telling of Edison's life really, shows just how much a person can accomplish if they set their mind to it -- and if they are allowed to. There are so many limits, controls, and bureaucratic barriers in modern-day America, that I'm doubtful that a Thomas Edison born today would be able to follow a similar course. Undoubtedly, people can still accomplish great things, but if you just imagine how much extra time, money, and energy of Edison's would have been consumed in dealing with getting permits and licenses, fighting with various officials from various agencies, complying with regulations, and so on...well, let's guesstimate that it might have consumed 20% of his personal working capital. (I believe the amount would have been much, much higher.) What 20% would you subtract from a life like that? Just think about how hard it is to open up a factory or a laboratory now. In many instances, Edison went from looking at the problem to solving it to mass-producing the solution in 90 days or less. Is that possible now, in the U.S.? I think not. And it's not due to the limitations of human energy or knowledge. It's due to needing to get approval or disapproval before doing or not doing almost anything of significance.
Finally, this column by Michael Kinsley proposes an exit strategy by which to cut short the likely long debate over gay marriage -- which is, to get the government out of the job of licensing or sanctioning marriages entirely. His case similar to the view I posted back in December of 2001, but he fleshes it out more than I did.
I've got a very rudimentary page of mini-videos up now. These aren't political --they're little movies I captured on my digital camera around here, and at Yosemite National Park. There aren't any with me in them, either. They're mostly up for my nieces and nephews to check out, but if you want to take a look, feel free. They're mostly nature- or pet-related, and the longest one's 18 seconds. So don't get too excited. ;-)
More of that sort, and more useful video clips, coming soon.
There's one video there of the mini-pool project I'm working on in my front yard. I've been laying down the concrete in the first small pool and the little stream yesterday and today. I've got some thoughts on concrete to post, but I think I'm going to wait 'til after I've done the bigger pool. I've got something like 800 pounds or more of concrete to mix. Good times. This is the first time I've ever dealt with concrete. It's pretty neat. I might try to make some custom stepping stones or something if I have any left over after this. That'll seems like a cakewalk after this pool thing.
The various non-profit and political websites I run served up over 50,000 pages in June -- 55,646 to be exact. 19,059 of those pages were served up from this web site right here, while 10,048 were served at StopCarnivore.org, and 12,749 at PNAC.info. FutureSolutions.org led the bottom tier with 4,204 pages, while my barely-existing NoMoreDrugWar.com site had a pitiful 375 pageviews.
Freedom2008.com had 7,059 visits in June, which isn't quite glee-making, but which is an all-time high for the site, and just a hair under 10 times the number of visits a year ago. If I can keep that trend up, the site will have about 600 million visits in June of 2008. That would be nice. ;-)
I don't know if I can keep the traffic increasing tenfold each year, but I am quite confident I can do so this coming year. I fully expect that there will be at least 70,000 visits here in June 2004, which is a pretty darn good start. 700,000 a month in 2005 doesn't seem out of reach either. That would be glee-making...but I'm not willing to predict that one quite yet.
Most of the visits seem to be through search engines -- I am all over Google like a cheap suit, as well as most of the other search sites. You wouldn't believe some of the search terms this site comes up on. I'll post a list some time when I have time to make one up. It seems like people must get drawn in by the title of the site, because people click-through from a lot of searches where this site would not look like a proper result.
Some surprising findings from my stats review:
--E-Actions for Freedom and The Little Brown Reader have been a significant draw -- about 1,200 of this month's pageviews were at those two places. They are only a week and 4 days old respectively, so that's a promising amount of activity. I've posted around 50 entries at the two sites, and I think a lot of traffic is coming in from the various blog collating sites.
--While all but one of my other sites had less than 2 pageviews per visit, Freedom2008.com had almost 3 pageviews per visit on average, which indicates that people are looking around a bit when they get here.
--StopCarnivore.org's results were surprising simply because I haven't done any updating or promoting of that site in quite a while. The interest level there hasn't really flagged much over time, after the initial big rush faded down. That site is easily the overall most-visited of all the non-profit sites I've had.
--My three poetry pages over at FutureSolutions.org had almost 1000 pageviews, which isn't very remarkable, but which strikes me as weird and funny. It's strange to think that thousands of people have read my poems over the years. Strange but true.
--Sadly, there are still not too many non-search sites linking to here, but I think that the coming year will see a serious uptick in such links. One upside to that is that most of my traffic is coming from non-libertarian sources. I'm not really worried about winning over Libertarians -- we already agree, and I plan to win their support largely by my ability to appeal to non-libertarians. If I can hoe that row, I think Libertarians will be happy to support me, and I don't think that getting their attention will be very difficult.
One thing's for sure -- no other 2008 presidential candidate served up almost 20,000 campaign site pages to the voters last month. :-)
The totals above don't include PeoplesForum.com, the web community I run. There, membership went up almost 10% last month, and we had an unprecedented 2.5 million pageviews. If you assume every one of our 7914 members is an active poster -- the reality is probably more like a few thousand of them -- that comes out to a stunning 316 pageviews per member. It's probably actually around five or six hundred pageviews per member. It's good stuff, any way you slice it -- more than twice the traffic of the month before. One of our competitors has been having major server difficulties, and PF (as it's called) has become the refuge for hundreds of new wayward souls.
I'm becoming more convinced that PeoplesForum.com is going to triumph in the web community business simply by being one of the only places that doesn't collapse. I couldn't count all the major web forum places that have come and gone in the time since PF opened on all my fingers and toes. Someday I'm going to write an entry here about "governing" PeoplesForum.com, and what I've learned there. My policies there are very libertarian, in contrast with every other mainstream forum place, and by and large I think people love that fact.
Anyway, there's my web presence update. I think it's looking pretty good at this stage in the game.
I think I'm going to write an entry clarifying some of the things I said yesterday in my "Essential Hurdle for Libertarians" piece. I agree with the things I said, I just feel like I left some things unsaid. That entry kind of wrote itself -- it was actually supposed to be about something entirely different -- the sad state of the Democratic Party and the 2004 candidates. But it took on a life of its own, and I feel like it left some questions unanswered or something. It was listed in Rational Review News Digest today, which means lots of libertarians are probably going to be scrutinizing it -- believe it or not, significant Libertarians were passing around and scrutinizing something I wrote as long as two years ago. And I've learned that if I leave questions unanswered, they will be answered for me, in my absence. One of the primary goals of this site, and a cornerstone of my campaign, is to provide the most open, thorough, and forthright view of who I am and what I'm about that I can. So I'll probably be revising and extending my remarks from the other night, if I can borrow a phrase from our esteemed Congress.