November 26, 2003
Video Footage from The OC I put together a little 4-minute video of clips I've taken with my digital camera. It's a still-image camera, but it captures little clips of silent video also. I posted a link to a bunch of those a while back.

Anyway, I was messing around with a bunch of them last night -- partly trying to figure out what all these unnamed little video clips were (I have at least 100 of them piled up), partly starting to put stuff together for a movie for my nieces and nephews on the east coast, and partly just practicing "the craft", as the industry people call it (I assume).

The result isn't much to speak of -- a 4-minute, silent, moving slideshow of sorts. But it's a little more than that too. There's some of the craft in there I think, and at the very least there are lots of shots of the peafowl as they've grown up over the past several months. It's definitely a peek into a small slice of my life, though I'm only in it in shadow form -- and it's totally non-political. In fact it's about as nonpolitical as it could be -- it's primarily footage of nature. (I live way out in the country.) It's also pretty silly, because I was just playing around while making it. It was more of a learning experience than anything. It probably doesn't rightfully belong on this site, but it's here (at least for now).

It's a big file. In fact, if I had my druthers, it'd be bigger, because I'm not happy with the video quality of the 30 meg version, which is what's below. It blurs up pretty bad in the action sequence. But the next step up is 90+ megs, and I don't have space for that at the moment. High-speed surfers should be able to handle this one OK...modem folks would have to leave it loading overnight or something. I'll probably update this anyway, because I didn't give my two dogs equal screen time, and I'm probably going to add some audio. So this version may go out of print -- see it while you can!

I'm not posting the video module on the front page, because it messes up the page load time, so click below to read on and see the video.

By the way, I will have more politically-oriented video to post here before long as well. This is just a random extra. (Unless you are seeing the full page already).

The OC*: Video Footage

Do not adjust your sound. The movie is silent.

You can download the file to your hard drive by right-clicking here and choosing "save target as", or some similar function.

<A HREF="">Play the clip using the stand-alone player</A>

Produced and directed by Lance Brown

Can't view the clip? Download the RealPlayer plug-in from RealNetworks

*This is of course not related to "The OC", the new show on Fox.
The "OC" of this video is related to my address.

Posted by Lance Brown at 04:01 PM
November 25, 2003
Presidential Candidates with Blog

Question: What do George Bush, Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, John Kerry, me, and Bob Graham have in common? (Aside from being white and male...oops.)

Answer: We're all featured as "Presidential Candidates with Blog" in this entry at a weblog called Xtreme Think Tank.

Keep in mind -- aside from me, none of those candidates are actually blogging, as far as I know. (And Bob Graham hasn't been a candidate for a while now.)Those other blogs are made up of campaign members and supporters blogging on behalf of the candidates -- providing an ongoing virtual pep rally of sorts. This campaign probably won't have that sort of blog until the next election cycle starts.

The news story which provoked Doug at Xtreme Think Tank's entry on campaign blogs was this one: "Add 'Blog' To the Campaign Lexicon".

Posted by Lance Brown at 12:55 AM
November 24, 2003
"My favorite quote on politics that I'll read this month"

I wouldn't generally bother to mention if someone was talking about me on a random message board somewhere. Unless it was filled with glowing praise, that is. ;-)

This message board post fits that bill. The author of it called the following quote, from my rebuttal to MoveOn's anti-recall release, his "favorite quote on politics that I'll read this month":

I'm becoming more and more convinced that the real problem in American politics is neither the Left nor the Right -- the real problem is the battle between those two over who gets to drive.

It's nice to hear that concept has some appeal, since it's going to be a prevailing theme in my campaign.

Posted by Lance Brown at 12:16 AM
November 16, 2003
The Shizzle hits the Fizzle: Announcing...

Most people who know me consider me a nice guy. But not people who I've decided to come out against and challenge. Most of them probably consider me a pain in the ass.

Which brings me to Principal Mark Cerutti. He's the Wisconsin principal who suspended Sashwat Singh for the self-produced rap CD that Singh brought to school. Specifically, he suspended him for one song -- a song about none other than Principal Mark Cerutti. The news flurry probably left many people thinking the song was about threatetning the principal with violence, but it wasn't. It was about frustration with the (new this year) principal's perceived authoritarian methods, especially his tendency to call the police in to the school too frequently (in the opinion of Sashwat).

In other words, Sashwat's song, the one that got him suspended, was a protest song. The claims of "threatening lyrics" and the "zero tolerance" argument were just convenient tools in what was ultimately an exercise in silencing dissent, and punishing thought.

The principal's effort to lash out and punish this student for speaking out against him through musical expression has so far been successful, at least on the surface: The family was pressured and intimidated (by threat of Sashwat's possible expulsion) into agreeing not to pursue reversing the suspension; Sashwat has been barred from passing his CD out at school; and the main local paper editorialized in support of suspension, but not expulsion -- and that's exactly what happened.

In a "case closed"-type story on the episode, Sashwat's lawyer declared a funny-if-it-wasn't-so-sad "victory for free speech," and that was that.

Except that's not that at all. First of all, a student should not get a 5-day suspension for the content of a rap song, and an administration should not get away with doling out such a punishment. Secondly, Sashwat's frustration, which was expressed so profanely in "Mista Cer-fruity (A Song for our Principal)", is a frustration that is shared by many of his fellow students, and by parents in the district as well. It appears that this new principal has earned himself plenty of new anti-fans, and for a reason. To quote one Brookfield Central student:

Every single day a police car carries at least 1 kid from our school. We aren't bad kids but Mr.Cerutti decides that he can't handle it and needs police involvment. That causes way too much controversy. What can I do to take action?

Well, Student Who Shall Remain Anonymous, I'm glad you asked.

Introducing "30 days of Raps about Principal Mark Cerutti", a new online focus area -- a vehicle for creatively exploring the issues surrounding Principal Cerutti, his administrative methods, and his decision to suspend a certain rapping honors student. The aim is primarily to help facilitate and energize the discussion that needs to take place surrounding the issues involved in this, whether it be the "zero tolerance" movement, free expression, violence in schools, or how many kids Principal Cerutti is in fact calling the cops on, and for what reasons.

First and foremost, I hope to help the citizens of the Elmbrook School District thoroughly flesh out exactly what is going on in Brookfield Central High School, and in figuring out what they would like to do about it. In that sense, the "30 Days of Raps" can be seen to mean "30 days of open and frank discussion".

In another sense, it can be seen to mean that I am going to post a rap a day about Principal Cerutti and this situation, for 30 days -- and that is indeed the case. The first of those raps, "The Principal Cerutti Beat Down Rap", gives a sort of overview of the situation. Subsequent raps will examine different aspects of the case, including violence in language, student rights, and others.

I'm also encouraging Brookfield Central students, faculty, and parents to post or send in stories about Mr. C's methods, and I'm inviting everyone (including you) to submit your own raps or poems about the principal and his conduct, the bigger issues involved in the case, or anything else relating to the situation. It promises to be fun and informative, and with luck, purposeful and constructive.

If the community of Brookfield, Wisconsin is able to have a full, open, and detailed conversation about the merits and demerits of Principal Mark Cerutti as their school administrator, and make a fully-informed decision based on that conversation; and if the students of Brookfield Central are able to give voice to their frustrations in a non-violent and constructive way; and if the movement called "zero tolerance" takes a small step backwards, then 30 Days of Raps about Principal Mark Cerutti will have been successful, in spite of its awkwardly long title. ;-)

I hope you'll check it out. You can read through some more background there (or more ranting by me), and with any luck, you'll join in the conversation too!

These issues go far beyond Brookfield Central High School and Principal Cerutti, as I'm sure you're aware. So don't be afraid to join in, whether you're from southeastern Wisconsin or not. And check back there often, as new raps and other items will be posted on a daily basis.

And spread the word, yo! The shizzle is hittin' the fizzle, right over here.

Posted by Lance Brown at 08:45 PM
November 10, 2003
Sashwat Singh's Rap CD Suspension

Sashwat Singh is an honor student at Brookfield Central High School in Brookfield, WI. He's a big music lover -- he's in the school band and choir, and he's a big fan of local live music as well. And, like most kids these days, he's good on the computer.

So 15-year-old Sashwat made his own rap CD on his computer, over the course of the past few months. 14 songs. And, not surprisingly, his rap CD contains obscenities and tough talk, toward his peers and authority figures in his life.

And -- not surprisingly at all, I'm sad to say -- he got suspended from school for it. In the assault on logic commonly called "zero tolerance policies" in schools, Sashwat's CD -- made outside of school -- was judged to be on a par with a bomb threat, arson or bringing guns to school.

Not content with merely defiling the Brookfield High student body's conception of their rights as individuals to free thought and free speech, and sacrificing Sashwat to the altar of Making An Example, the school district is considering going a step further and holding an expulsion hearing. To do so would give him ten more school-free days right off the bat, while he and his parents and lawyer spend time figuring out how to explain this kid's right to make a rap CD to people who don't already understand that he has that right. Presumably, if they fail to successfully explain that fact, Sashwat would be expelled from school. I'm not ready to believe they would actually expel him for this, but neither can such madness be ruled out as a possibility, as anyone who has read about the legions of idiotic disciplinary actions that have taken place under the rubric of "zero tolerance" knows all too well. If lemon drops, stick drawings of U.S. soldiers, and plastic silverware can be grounds for suspensions, then why shouldn't expelling a kid for making a CD be a viable possibility?

I'll tell you one thing that's nearly certain -- Sashwat Singh is going to have a much bigger problem with authority from here on out than he ever did before. My intuition is that he will not "learn his lesson", as his school administrators -- in the case of his principal, vengeful school administrator -- surely wish he would. He's too smart, and too far along in developing free expression. At least I hope he is. Making a 14-song CD is no small feat, and for a 15-year-old to do it all on his own shows a serious committment. And just from the slice of his life that I was able to find on the Internet, one can see that he has a very passionate interest in music -- something that, in a normal world of sanity, would be encouraged and rewarded, especially if it showed in someone with Sashwat's drive and ambition.

I haven't heard the CD yet, but that really doesn't matter. The news stories presumably gave the lowdown on the "bad stuff" -- talking the proverbial shit about his mother and peers, and offering vengeful new Principal Mark Cerutti a beat down if he doesn't get out of town. If there was worse than that I assume we'd have heard about it -- and if there was worse than that, then so what?

"I got my twelve-gauge sawed off/I got my headlights turned off/I'm 'bout to bust some shots off/I'm 'bout to dust some cops off!"

-Body Count, "Cop Killer" (1992)

"Hey you ever get the feelin that America is turning into some kinda sit-com, lowest common denominator shopping mall marketing strategy from hell?/You ever get that feeling?/Well I got that feeling right now/And it's kinda getting under my skin/Yeah, so I'm gonna get some gas-o-line, and/Burn down the malls"

-Mojo Nixon, "Burn Down the Malls" (1986)

"You know I've never visited Alaska/Where the oil was spilled/That drunken captain should be killed/An atrocity, he still walks free..."

-311, "!#$ The %&*!" (1993)

I post those lyrics -- and you know I could go on posting the same or worse for a very long time -- to help Principal Cerutti, Superintendent Gibson, and anyone else who's confused, understand that "threats" and violence are not considered the same way when they occur in a creative medium such as music. Mojo Nixon was not prosecuted for his "plan" to burn down the malls (nor his plan, 9 years later, to take over a national armory and start a revolution); Ice-T was not jailed for the cop-killing spree he "described" in song (nor for the killing of his mother that he described -- vividly -- in another song); and 311 was never interrogated about their effort to get the captain of the Exxon Valdez killed.

Music -- and rap even moreso than most music -- is an effort in creative fiction. Or, to put it in a way that a high school administrator might be able to understand -- the journey in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales never really happened. Dante never really went on a stroll through the levels of Hell. Holden Caulfield is not JD Salinger.

All that aside, this CD was created outside of school. Just as the school would have no cause for administrative disciplinary action if a student said "I'm going to beat Principal Cerutti down if he doesn't get out of town" while at his or her home, they also have nothing to go on here. If Cerutti thought it was a real threat to him, then he had recourse through the police, but not through his own school-borne authority. The only possible cause for action (and it's really weak) is that Sashwat was apparently distributing, in some cases selling, his CD on school grounds. So he maybe committed the selling or distributing of something that's not allowed to be sold or distributed at school. But the item is a CD -- not a weapon, not drugs. I find it improbable that CDs are considered contraband of some sort. (Though I won't be surprised if Principal Cerutti makes an adjustment of that nature to the rulebook, so as to ensure that materials which demean him are only exchanged off of school property in the future.)

If my dramatic portrayal of Sashwat Singh's unfortunate situation has fired you up enough to act out, click here for a series of easy steps you can take to help direct things toward a relatively happy ending. There are newspapers to be written to, Board of Education members to phone, meetings to go to -- and a Mr. Cerutti and a Mr. Gibson that need to be told what we think of administrators who punish students for taking initiative and being creative. Take action!

Click here to read about my own suspension in 1988 for writing a poem, when I was 15 like Sashwat.

Oh, and in fairness to him, here's a less humiliating picture of Sashwat than the apparent school photo that appears in the news article.

Posted by Lance Brown at 02:08 AM
The poem that got me suspended, and the story behind it

First, the backstory.

When I was in high school, there was a Geometry teacher, Mrs. Johnson. She was a teacher that few students liked, and the impression was that it went both ways. I was one of those kids that was "too smart for my own good", as the saying goes. The kind of smart where people eventually tell you to "stop being smart", if you get my drift.

(My answer to that, which I just noticed was more clever than I realized at the time, was generally, "I don't know how.")

Anyway...on certain holidays, Mrs. Johnson would have us kids engage in the strange practice of writing a poem that connected the holiday in question with math. And we could decorate it, in a sort of twisted throwback to grade school, and then if we wanted we could read it in front of the class and hang it up on that corkboard strip above the chalkboard. Well, on Valentine's Day, I had some fun with that project, and I wrote the sappiest love poem ever, to my dear Mrs. Johnson -- a teacher that everyone in the class, herself included, knew I couldn't stand. Though I didn't really understand what "irony" was back then, I knew how to use it, and I got to read my poem before the class, and we students all had a nice chuckle at how I smothered her with false kindness.

On St. Patrick's Day a month later, I wasn't feeling nearly so generous. (The incident with the improper test scoring that's described in the poem had happened just the day before, and was the culmination of a series of conflicts between us two.) I wrote my poem during an earlier class that day, out in the hallway after having been kicked out for backtalking. The poem was called "The St. Patrick's Day Massacre", a loose reference to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, something I had heard of before (though I didn't know what it was). Here it is, pretty much exactly as it was written (including the signature at the end). The rest of the story follows it.

["P.J." (in the poem) was my teacher -- Patricia Johnson. It's kinda obvious, but just in case. And there weren't any spaces between lines in the original -- though there probably should have been -- so I left it with no breaks. And yes, the poetry is really lame -- I was 15, and more focused on message than meter. ;-)]

The St. Patrick's Day Massacre

Another poem, this one for St. P's Day,
All the kids are happy and psyched
Except the ones taught by old P.J.
Cuz she whips us and hurts us and uses her chains
She gets her enjoyment from inflicting pain.
Her only concern is to get her paycheck
Sometimes I really want to wring her neck.
Some kids have said I should
But only as a dare
She's threatened to kick me out
Cuz as far as I'm concerned Mrs. Johnson's unfair
And I realize I'm not the only one who doesn't care
She don't either
Well, that's the impression she's made
All she worries about is that the rent is paid.
"You mean you haven't learned a thing?"
She screams and wails
I can just imagine her tears
Coming out in buckets and pails.
"You mean you got that right
And I marked it wrong?
Oh no, what a bummer
I'm such a ding dong!
That's o.k., 10 points here and there
Won't make a dif," Yeah Mrs. J., that's fair.
You know what else is fair?
Giving us a quiz that we have to take 'til each one of us passes
And not counting it for anything
What do you think we are, a bunch of asses?
Don't answer that
We won't hear you anyway
Haven't you noticed
We don't listen to what you say
Say what? Oh yeah.
This is a St. Patty's day poem.
Some advice, Mrs. Johnson
Quit your "job" and go home.
Oh - Happy St. Patrick's Day
I'm glad you wore green
Maybe that'll cover up
The fact that you're mean



I actually got up and read that poem in front of the class and Mrs. Johnson. For most of the time I was reading, the class was in shocked silence, and so was Mrs. Johnson I guess. Once I finished, I went to hang my poem up above the chalkboard, as was the custom. Mrs. J. interrupted me and told me I could just put it on her desk.

To make the rest of a long story short: I was pulled out of lunch by a furious Mr. Farley, the Vice Principal, who told me I was suspended as we were still heading to his office (i.e., before I had a chance to explain or defend myself). I got suspended for 5 days, much like young Mr. Singh, who I'm writing about in my next entry. I also was kicked out of Mrs. Johnson's class for good. My mom, who had spent many long years standing up for me against school administrators, stood up this time too, and supported my effort to involve the state Board of Education (whom I had called on my own as soon as I got home from being suspended).

There are three things that school administrators fear: public embarassment, lawsuits, and their bosses. In this case, playing the "boss card" worked quite well, and with my mother's support (and the support of a Donna Wied from the Massachusetts Board of Education), my suspension was stricken from the record, and generally my punishment was removed. I wasn't allowed back into Mrs. Johnson's class, which was alright by me, except for the fact that she was the only teacher who taught Acclerated (i.e., "college prep") Geometry. And my mom -- perhaps the only person in the world who never wanted to stop or punish me for being "too smart" -- would not stand to have her son put at an academic disadvantage for what essentially amounted to completing his assigned work.

In the end, I got moved to a different Geometry class, with various stipulations designed to preserve some of my dignity (at least in my permanent record). Despite moving to a presumably easier class, my grade in Geometry went into decline, and I got the first C in my academic life. I also got weird half-scared looks from the bulk of teachers at my school for a long while, and the "poem incident" was one of the things that was brought up when I was rejected from the National Honor Society later in my high school career.

And, of course, whatever little respect I had previously had for the authority figures at my school went for a long walk and never came back. I knew they had no respect for me, and that they had little power to control me in terms of my non-physical conduct. Those two guidelines ruled my behavior for most of the rest of my time at that school. I learned my lesson, as the saying goes -- just not the lesson that anyone (except maybe my mom) was trying to teach me.

Too bad this happened in 1988, before 24-hour news and the Internet got so big, or else I could have gotten some national publicity for a day or two. I also ended up in a rift concerning the Pledge of Allegiance (though not over the phrase "under God"), right around the same time. I guess I was ahead of my time. ;-)

Posted by Lance Brown at 12:34 AM
November 07, 2003
Look over there! It's me, writing stuff.

I've got a couple things you can take a look at if you're interested.

Specifically, if you're interested in internal Libertarian Party activist back-and-forths, you can read "Knapp (and me) on Party Loyalty and the California Recall", which I just posted a bit ago at The Little Brown Reader. And if you're interested in trends in globally-minded political philosophy, you can read "Ilana Mercer: Bush is a Neoconservative", which I posted a couple days ago at

The first is me responding (way late) to Rational Review publisher Tom Knapp's opinion column about Libertarian leaders who jumped political ship for the recent recall election. The second is me using WorldNetDaily columnist Ilana Mercer's column about "neoconservative godfather" Irving Kristol's column about President Bush as a vehicle to respond to folks who have visited and complained about the "typical whiny liberal crap" there. (Hint: It's not really "typical whiny liberal crap" that's there.)

My article about Tom Knapp's column is a great example of the problem I often encounter when writing blog entries. I hadn't intended on making it into a big entry or anything -- I just wanted to say enough to make my point. But before I knew it, I had written a 1500-word column, and spent a goodly amount of time doing so. That's pretty much what happens any time I try to make a substantial point of some sort. I could pick any topic that I have an opinion on at random, and write a 1500-word column about it -- in fact, the problem would usually be finishing it in just 1500 words. A lot of times that keeps me from venturing down that road -- and most of the time I do venture down it, it's unplanned.

I considered re-posting my entry about Tom Knapp's column here, since The Little Brown Reader isn't really supposed to be for big writings, but for some reason I've decided not to bring it out to the "main stage". It's a little rambling and casual, and I make some fairly contentious claims about some fellow Libertarians, and I'm just going to leave it where it is, with the pointer posted here.

Posted by Lance Brown at 11:59 PM
November 01, 2003
My river doth overfloweth

As usual, the reason I haven't been posting much isn't that I haven't been doing anything. Actually, there are a lot of reasons I didn't end up posting many entries here last month, but they're not worth writing about really. I've mostly just been doing pretty boring stuff. I've got a huge backlog of dictated sound files, and I've been typing some of those in. I've got a few hundred e-mails that have piled up in my inbox over the past few months, and I've been trying to whittle that down while keeping on top of the incoming flow. To be honest, that battle is bringing less-than-stupendous results. I've had about 2/3 of my e-mail subscriptions filtered automatically into storage for a while now. Not counting those, I get around 1000 e-mails a day. Around 900-950 of those are spam usually. I'm trying out a new spam filter which seems to catch close to half of those, so I'm finding a little relief there, but generally my inbox has had a net growth of 5-20 e-mails by the close of each day lately.

So if you've written to me and haven't heard back, that's why. :-{

Overall, I'm trying to switch from consumption to output. Less reading, more writing. I've got a bad habit of devouring as much new information as I can, constantly -- to the point where it keeps me from getting around to putting that information to productive use. I tend to take "you learn something new every day" quite literally -- too literally. To me, it's more of a mantra than a cliché. And it's catching up with me.

I think that's my whole entry. Not much of an entry, I guess, but it's a start.

By the way, I just posted a handful of action items at E-actions for freedom recently, and almost 115 entries at the Little Brown Reader in October -- so if you're hungry for more, I've got you covered.

Posted by Lance Brown at 11:59 PM