I bumped into an old friend of mine -- Kurt -- on the web. He's a journalist now, and I found myself reading an article he wrote recently about the California recall candidates' web sites. Kurt and I actually perfomed together in a talent show at a program called CTY -- sort of camp for young brainiacs, held at a number of college campuses each summer -- about 17 years ago or so. (BTW, if you are a young brainiac, or parent of one, I highly recommend CTY.)
So after I e-mailed Kurt and said "Hi, remember me?", and he wrote back, he then found his way to this site, and was prompted to write again with some encouraging comments. You can see them in slightly-edited format over in the testimonial/comments section on the left, but here they are in full:
I've also been reading some of the political content at freedom2008.com, and find it damn interesting. I am nominally a Democrat, but have never been seriously politically active, mainly because I'm fed up with a lot of what the major parties say and do. (In short, I'm probably the kind of voter "third" or "other" parties are trying to engage -- you could say I'm looking for an intelligent alternative.)
I'm not ready to declare myself a Libertarian, but your site piques me and makes me think. And that's (at least) half the battle.
Needless to say, comments like that make my day. :-)
This next item's not new, but it's cool, and I've never posted about it. Adam Graham, who worked for PeoplesForum.com as a contract newsletter writer for a little over a year, has an interesting page on his web site where he writes about his past jobs, and what he liked and disliked about them. Here's his entry about working under me for PeoplesForum.com:
Employed: October, 2000-January, 2002
What I liked: Making Money Writing, Learning new skills (database, some programming)
What I didn't like: Minutae
On my 20th birthday, in the midst of feeling burnt out on fast food, and in need of a job that could fit easily fit around my school schedule, Lance Brown made me "an offer I couldn't refuse". Paying me $50 per newsletter to write for his forum and debate site, PeoplesForum.com.
I thought it was a dream job. I would be writing for a living rather than cooking curly fries. Little did I know how demanding the job would be.
Lance Brown was a perfectionist when it came to every aspect of writing. I often found myself resenting what I perceived as "nitpicking". However, in retrospect, I look at Lance, the way people in my grandfather's generation would look at their old Army Sergeants. Simply put, Lance gave me a few good kicks in the pants and in the process helped make me a better writer.
I learned a lot of skills in mailing that newsletter. I gained my first experience working with database software and my only experience working with mailing list processing in the course of this job.
Lance was definitely one of the more interesting employers I've had. We talked about a lot of things. Lance is a fairly deep person and we would spend hours having off-topic discussions. His suggestions could seem somewhat odd at times (such as the suggestion that I needed to watch "South Park" in order to see the arguments against Christianity). [Note:From Lance Brown: "That's not what I said about South Park. It was more along the lines of saying that you weren't experiencing the full range of viewpoints if you shut yourself off from something like South Park. The way you phrased it on your site was more simplified than I recall my actual sentiments being."]
Lance ended my job with the newsletter because he wasn't sure what was going to happen to the PeoplesForum.com. After I left, there was a huge upsurge in interest as people left Salon.bomb for PeoplesForum.com. The site remains alive and thriving to this day. It's a great place for Internet discussion and debate. I haven't had much time to visit, but Lance still runs a great operation. His perfectionism and eye for innovation does that site well.
Employer Rating: 4 Stars
I guess I did help make him a better writer, because I only see three nitpicky errors in his entry. ;-)
Adam's assessment is probably kind, really. I'm a pretty blunt writing critic, and when something's going out under my name or my company's name...well, I call it "improvementist" instead of "perfectionist", but many people would see it as the same thing. Actually, the Army Sergeant comparison is probably pretty on-target. To Adam's credit, he kept at it, and he definitely improved. Working with Adam was interesting, in a number of ways. One, because I've never met him in person -- I knew him for years before I heard his voice, and it was only yesterday that I first saw what he looks like. Two, because he's a very conservative, very religious person, and I'm...well...let's say, really open-minded. That's reflected a bit in his summary above, as you can see.
He also features this site on his links page, and finding his comments about it again inspired me to finally add it to the testimonials section. It's a great testimonial -- it cracks me up. Here it is:
This is the blog belonging to my former boss and aspiring President of the United States. I remain pledged to moving to Ireland if he actually wins but still it's an interesting site.
It's over on the left now along with Kurt's comments.
Now we step a little farther into the abstract, to a page I found when trying to dig up all the news links in the last entry. It's on the site of a person named Tian, who I met at Burning Man in 2000. He lived in the same neighborhood as I did that year -- if I recall correctly, he was
campaigning evangelizing passionately for Ralph Nader. And two of his campmates went home with "Lance Brown for President" t-shirts (three campmates really, because one shirt went to a couple.)
The reason we're talking about Tian right now is because he talks about me, on his site. I come up on three pages, actually. On this page, you can see a picture of the big sign from my "Burn Your Man" camp. You can't read the whole sign, but Tian explains the process enough that it should make some sense, in a surreal temporary-city-in-the-desert kind of way. If not, then you can click on that picture, or this link. There you'll see a picture of me, looking very casual and sunburned in my trusty campaign t-shirt, along with a caption about my campaign, and some pictures and comments about the project at my camp. The third relevant page is this one, where you can see the three people who got Freedom2008.com t-shirts (in the second picture down, doing an Iwojima-flag-raising imitation), and a passing comment about me about two-thirds of the way down the page, under a picture of Carlos (in the red robe and black hat). He was, as the caption says, that camp's "token Libertarian", and so he and I got along well naturally. And I did give him a campaign shirt, as the caption also says.
Thanks to Tian for a tiny snip of documentary footage of Lance: On the Campaign Trail, as it were. ;-) Oh, and one last little bit from there -- the street sign in this photo (8:00/Heart) is currently in my front yard. And while we're getting silly, the basketball hoop, dart board, and balloon hanging from the sign were all mine too. Ah, nostalgia.
If you're familiar with Burning Man, then that series of pages probably didn't startle you too much. If you're not aware of it, then it probably seems freaky and a bit silly. It is -- but in a good way. If you don't believe me, go yourself and find out. It's happening right now, so you're too late this year -- you'll have to start planning for next year.
I also found two places on the web that had referenced me which I hadn't been aware of previously. The first was in Viking Ventures, the student newspaper of Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes, Delaware, back in January of this year. Sarah Murray wrote an article about high school cliques, and she quoted from my Boston Public: The Case Against Schools essay. This was neat to see.
And lastly, a quote from me was listed on this page of quotes about the death penalty. The coolest part about finding this was seeing myself quoted next to Martin Luther King, Jr. That's a first for me -- and it feels good.
Here is a list of some of my appearances in the media over the years. This list will be filled out with many more items from the past, and updated with items in the future, so be sure to check back. I'll add a link to this in the main menu of site links.
LP presidential hopeful endorses Advocates libertarian award program
July 30, 2003
The Essential Hurdle for Libertarians
(Opinion article by Lance)
Liberty For All
July 20, 2003
Mourning the Bill of Rights in California (with photos)
LP News (National Libertarian Party publication)
(NOTE: In the bottom picture, the person referred to as Miles Everett is actually Lance)
Cliques: a major part of high school life
Viking Ventures (Student newspaper of Cape Henlopen High School, Lewes, Delaware)
(Reference to Lance's Boston Public: The Case Against Schools essay)
January 10, 2003
Blogging for President?
Confounding Carnivore: How to Protect Your Online Privacy
Novermber 29, 2001
Carnivore Controversy Lingers
Silicon Valley BizInk
October 5, 2001
"I do not shrink from this responsibility, I welcome it."
(Opinion article by Lance)
Liberty For All
ISPs worry Carnivore will devour privacy
Silicon Valley BizInk
December 15, 2000
Interview with Lance Brown, CEO of PeoplesForum.com
Help Net Security
November 5, 2000
(Also presented at International Debate Education Association Conference, Budapest, Hungary, October 6-8, 2000, as Internet Debating: The USA Perspective)
Too Close For Comfort?
Close friends that make great business partners
.Com and get it: For Internet enthusiasts, there's no place like a domain
September 12, 1999
Lance Brown Speaks at Million Marijuana March in San Francisco
(brief mention in an overall recounting of the rally)
May 3, 1999
Ezine Review of Liberator Online
(Brief mention of Lance's review of their publication at now-defunct eZines)
April 16, 1998
In a country of sold-out, compromised (and compromising) politicians, who coax and woo their voting constituency with promises of pork and "reform", and who could scarcely be said to even have principles, never mind to be acting on them...in such a country (it's America I'm talking about, by the way), Representative Ron Paul stands out. He's not perfect, but he's trying very hard to be -- and he gains a lot of respect for his efforts.
He's been nicknamed "Dr. No", because he's a doctor by trade, and he relentlessly votes "No" on bill after bill. He's got this weird mental condition, see, wherein he believes in individual liberty -- and if that's not nutty enough, he also thinks the Constitution imposes limits on what government is supposed to do. Somehow he's managed to stay in Congress while voting almost 100% in accordance with those beliefs. And we should all be glad he has, even if he is a Republican. (I told you he wasn't perfect.)
"And why, exactly, should we be so glad Dr. Paul has managed to stay in Congress?" you ask? Fair enough.
This is why, exactly: "Neo-conned". That's a speech that Ron Paul gave to Congress this July. It is, as they say, essential reading.
"What's so great about this speech?"
I'm glad you asked.
Here's what's so great about Ron Paul's "Neo-conned" speech:
Best of all, it provides a convenient way for me to generally summarize my political stance, at least to the politically well-read. I can say, "You know the trend/movement that Ron Paul describes with trepidation in his 'Neo-conned' speech?" And they'll be like, "Yeah." And I'll be like, "I'm the opposite of that."
It's just about that simple. Obviously that doesn't get you all my own proactive ideas, but if you want to know what I'm against, just read that speech of Ron Paul's. It's my life's ambition to oppose the movement he describes there, and to help speed up the process of arriving at the moment he describes here:
Once enough of us decide we’ve had enough of all these so-called good things that the government is always promising—or more likely, when the country is broke and the government is unable to fulfill its promises to the people—we can start a serious discussion on the proper role for government in a free society. Unfortunately, it will be some time before Congress gets the message that the people are demanding true reform. This requires that those responsible for today’s problems are exposed and their philosophy of pervasive government intrusion is rejected.
That's what I'm working on. That exposing "those responsible for today's problems", and "their philosophy of pervasive government intrusion" being rejected business -- that's what I'm all about. I live, sleep and breathe it. Exposing the power players, and their plays, and getting them rejected. That's the goal of StopCarnivore.org (whch was doing alright until 9-11), of PNAC.info (which is playing a part in turning the tide on exactly the folks Ron Paul names), of the Nevada County Bill of Rights Defense Committee (which is part of one of the most revolutionary movements in US history), and of all my other projects, including Future Solutions and this here campaign for president. Even my work for my company PeoplesForum.com has involved empowering the individual toward self-determination while opposing the heavy hand of authority and control. In terms of organization and control, I feel safe in saying that PeoplesForum.com is one of the most libertarian online communities out there. (I can't say the same for the political views of the community members, which span the whole dial.)
So, to review: "Neo-conned" is essential reading (and Ron Paul is essentially great, even though he's a Republican). The agenda and movement he describes stands for that which I oppose, on virtually every point and matter. They are, in almost all instances, pro-authority. I am, in almost all instances, anti-authority. They are pro-state -- I am pro-individual. They are the future's greatest enemy, and I hope to do everything I can to counter their efforts.
That doesn't tell you much about what I'm for, specifically, but it lets you know what team I'm on, in case you were wondering.
Really the main point of this post is to get you to read the speech, and to pass it around to anyone who's willing to read it. It's a little long for the bubblegum politics folks, but people who take their politics seriously should find cause to take Ron Paul's speech, and the warnings within, seriously as well. (...And then join the liberty team, because ultimately we're going to boot the neo-cons right the hell out of Dodge.)
This page has links to three different formats of the speech -- regular, print-friendly, and PDF.
Whew! What a week I had working at the Nevada County Fair! It was a lot of fun -- and a huge drain on my resources at the same time. The fun part makes up for the other part, though...and included in the "fun" rating is how beneficial it was for the local LP group (which, for the newbies, I'm Chairman of). We administered around 800 World's Smallest Political Quizzes, and about 10% of those folks gave us contact info so we can keep in touch with them. For a party as small as ours, that's a major boom.
We also got a number of folks from within the party, and even from neighboring counties, to help out with staffing the booth, and as far as I can tell, everybody enjoyed themselves and felt good about what we were getting done there. The response from fair visitors who came to the booth was almost universally positive, even though plenty of people didn't align themselves with our party. That World's Smallest Political Quiz is a superb outreach tool -- people really enjoy it. All week long, we had folks who had previously taken the quiz bringing their friend or spouse or sibling over to try it out. And there was plenty of "Thanks -- that was fun!", and "Thanks -- that was really interesting" going around too.
The Chairmen from two different local LP regions both worked the booth, and both lavished some praise on our local party's booth and efforts, which was very nice to hear.
It wasn't all about providing fuel for self-congratulatory back-slapping, though. This was an essential part of our local presence as a political force, and as a community organization. There hasn't been a county LP booth at the fair for about 10 years, and more than one person took the time to say they were glad to see that someone besides the Democrats and Republicans had set up shop there. Indeed, our two biggest rival parties were right down the lane from our booth. I get along pretty well with the leaders from both of those parties, as well as the Greens, so the rivalry consists mostly of good-natured ribbing.
In fact, here's a funny story: We had buttons available for a donation, and one of the buttons was an anti-USA-PATRIOT Act one. It had '"USA-PATRIOT" Act' in black letters, with a red circle around it and a line through it. I have a button-making kit, and I just printed the design up on my printer, and made a dozen or so. After introducing some of those in the morning, I returned later to find them all gone, and my party colleague Janet told me that the Democrats had bought them all up, because they had a petition against Patriot Act II over at their table. So, that was funny enough -- our biggest donation so far in the fair coming from the Democrats.
Then, on the last day, I was getting crafty, and I brought my laptop and printer to the fair -- the button-making stuff was already there. After a time, I came up with the idea of making "Recall Bush" buttons, to sell to the Democrats. They're trying to fight the recall of super-loser Gray Davis, and presumably they support the impeach Bush movement, so I figured it would be a sassy button they'd like. I printed a few up with RECALL BUSH in big letters, and www.VoteToImpeach.org in small letters, and brought them over to the Dems -- but I didn't know any of the folks that were there, and the folks who were there weren't really spicy and tuned-in enough to get excited about the buttons. So I went back to our booth, and just left the buttons I had made on the back table there. (Neither Janet nor I thought it would be good to put them on our own main table, especially since the impeachment of Bush has not been officially discussed by our group.) And I went home. When I came back, Janet told me that we sold out of the "Recall Bush" buttons -- that the Democrats (different ones) had eventually come over and seized upon them. :-) On top of that, when I went over to say hey to them, they expressed interest in getting ahold of a bunch more Recall Bush buttons, and came and got my contact info so we could get together after the fair.
I also made some LEGALIZE FREEDOM buttons, with the NCLP's website address on them, and some of the Democrats were wearing those too! Now all I have to do is figure out some buttons to make that the Republicans will want to buy, and I can facilitate local Bipartisan ill will, while making a bunch of money. ;-)
I kid, of course...sort of. Like I said, I'm on good terms with both of those parties locally, and I even joked at the GOP booth about the Recall Bush buttons I was making. The woman I mentioned it to had to choke in a little gasp, but in the end she smiled and said she'd forgive me my errors (I'm paraphrasing).
All in all, it was a good time, and we helped move the political brain-gears of quite a lot of people. I also learned a lot about running a booth -- some of which was put into practice as the week went along. I'm going to put together an entry of tips and sugestions on running a booth, with pictures of the various elements of our booth, and thoughts on what worked well and what didn't. I've also got some pictures and short (soundless) video clips, which I'm going to post over at the NCLP site, and link to from here, probably as part of that tips entry. I even got a fellow booth worker to take a couple pictures of me in some amount of action. Unfortunately I'm making unflattering faces in many of them due to the sun (and maybe a little due to sleep deprivation), and those are the best ones in terms of actually seeing me. These are two of the better ones I guess:
Here I'm getting ready to score this man's quiz.
Here I'm conversing with someone off to the left of the camera shot. (You can see I'm wearing one of our "Legalize Freedom" buttons in this one.)
There have been two reasons for the recent lull here. For a few days, I was spending a great deal of my spare time engrossed in following the ongoing developments in the zany California recall election that's coming up. There was a whole series of ups and downs for me in terms of the Libertarians who are running or might run, but I don't have time to get into the whole thing right now.
Which brings me to reason two for the recent lull -- The Nevada County Fair has begun, and it has swept me up like so many tsunamis of local political party organizing. Now, all the crazy jostling and booth preparation is mostly past, and all that's left is 13 hours a day of staffing the booth from today until Sunday. I'm not working all those hours, but I will be doing about 35 hours or so of booth staffing in this 5 days. Today has been pretty much go-go-go since 7 AM, which is crazy-early for a night worker like me (especially considering the night before was booth setup until almost midnight, and bedtime at 3). Now, I'm off to bed as quick as I can, since I'm opening the booth at 10 this morning, with much to do beforehand.
I've got one leg of my "Lights of Liberty Triathlon" done though -- in a big way. And I heard that one of our outer core members who worked the booth today was so impressed by how nice our setup was that he plans to donate some money toward the effort. (Which is especially sweet, since I bankrolled most of the cost for this, in hopes of fundraising my reimbursement...which still has a ways to go.)
I didn't have my camera on me during good photo-shooting hours today, so you'll have to wait to see the real deal, but I wanted to have something to show you to account for my absence, so I took a picture of the closed-up booth tonight right before I left. Here it is. It's just a tiny taste for you...though when I look at that picture I see about 150 details that had to come together to create what's in it. It only looks easy. :-)
With all the various forms of nuts-and-bolts activism I've done over the past 15 years or so -- rallies and petition drives and poster design and public forums and fundraising and letters and tables and protests and coffin-painting and sign-making and videotaping and interviews and newsletter writing and page pasting and postering and picketing...and so on -- I've never worked a booth before, or a county fair. It came together pretty well, though there's plenty that could have been done better. This was a first time for the party, so we had to get the first set of all the supplies. Now that we've got the whole rig figured out and bought, we're ready to rock with much greater ease in the future. And at next year's fair, the energy can be devoted mostly to upgrading, rather than creating.
I may unload some thoughts about this booth effort, and about active political effort in general, during this week. Or, I may collapse from exhaustion until my NCLP peers have to come by my house and rouse me. You'll just have to tune in to find out, I guess. ;-)
You may recall that I mentioned the Advocates for Self-Government and their Lights of Liberty program not long ago. Well, recently I got a note from James Harris, editor of their e-mail newsletter The Liberator Online, asking if he could use my complimentary comments in some way, testimonial-style. I said (in effect) "go for it, and let me know when you do so I can thank you on the site."
Well, he let me know alright, at least in a way. My testimonial was highlighted by Advocates' President Sharon Harris, in the "President's Corner" column that leads off the above-mentioned newsletter this month! If you've read my big list of e-zines and e-mail lists, you might be aware that The Liberator Online is the world's largest-circulation libertarian e-zine, with over 50,000 subscribers. That makes this a mega-mention, and I'm here to deliver the thanks that are due.
Thanks for the mega-mention, Sharon and James! :-)
It's entirely possible that I've been subscribed to that e-mail newsletter longer than any other. I glanced through my records quickly to check, and I came across this review of it that I wrote, for the eZines online database:
All I can say is that I subscribe to well over 20 different newsletters, about half tech, and half news or politics. The Liberator Online is EASILY my most-anticipated, and most-enjoyed, of all my subscriptions. Week after week.
In my opinion, you are cheating yourself if you don't get this newsletter. It is run by The Advocates for Self-Government, people who are making a big impact in saving the world from its lack of self.
I wrote that in the first days of April 1998, so I guess I've been heaping praise upon the Advocates for quite a while -- and deservedly so. I've got no intention of stopping.
I was going to razz them for mistakenly using the Harry Browne spelling on my last name, but upon a little reflection, I think I've decided not to worry about that when it happens. It's going to happen a LOT, because Harry Browne has been the most prominent LP presidential candidate over the past decade. Given that, it's a really natural mistake to make. I've just got to get used to it, I think, and eventually it will fade. I also decided it doesn't matter very much in the end. So no worries. :-)