Sorry about the lull here folks. I'm hoping that was the big climactic lull, capping off the series of lulls in August.
I didn't plan to have a big gap in my posts here. It's not that I've been inactive over the past 10 days, it's more that I've had a strange sort of writer's block. I've been filled to bursting with stuff to say, but just haven't been finding the right times and opportunities to get it out effectively. I'm hoping this is my big comeback, and that I'll be back on track now, blogwise. Actually, I hope to pick up the pace a bit. I've got a lot I want to say right about now.
I haven't been slacking on all fronts, though. I've posted probably 40 or 50 entries at the Little Brown Reader over the past several days, and a few actions at E-Actions for Freedom. And I've done lots of other ordinary stuff -- working, cleaning, that sort of thing. I've also been running -- all but two days of the last seventeen, I've jogged between 3 and 4 miles. And no ordinary miles -- dirt-and-gravel road and cross-country trail miles, with bumps and hills and so forth. If I sound proud of myself about that feat, it's because I am proud. That's the most consistent and hardcore physical fitness accomplishment I've had in a long time, if ever. The only competitor would be my short time on the cross country running team in high school.
I started running/jogging again with some regularity about two years ago, but I hadn't been able to get and stay locked into it yet. I think I've pushed myself past the hump this time. I went 11 days in a row of 3 miles or more before taking a break, and it was kind of out of nowhere, really. On that day off, I went on a hardcore hike instead, which was at least as exhausting as my normal run, if not moreso. (I hope to put together a little pictorial from that hike, actually, because it sprang from a fairly intense thing -- a forest fire -- that happened near my house recently. Crews had worked through the night to put it out, and I went adventuring the next day to see what had gone down there.) After that day, I went back to the daily jogs, and have been back on that routine until yesterday, when the monthly NCLP meeting ate the portion of the day that I usually run. I could have done an evening run, but I decided to treat myself to the break. This regimen is putting my body through all sorts of strains, and I don't want to push it too far.
I'm not talking about my running to brag -- it's intended to inspire, if anything. It feels awesome to be getting such a tremendous amount of exercise. I've always been a pretty fit person -- or at least, I've always been generally slim and physically energetic -- but I haven't been what I would consider athletic, or really fit in the true sense of the word -- probably not since yon high school cross country team days. And in the time between then and now, I haven't been the kindest to my body, or wisest in terms of doing right by my health and fitness. Obviously, I'm working to turn that around. Jogging is just one part of it, but in a way, it represents sort of an axis. Put simply, it's damn hard to be running 3 miles every day and not be otherwise conducting oneself healthily. The fact that I've been able to do it shows me that I'm doing OK in the rest of my health as well. And that's sort of the challenge that the whole effort presents to me -- not so much the triumph of being able to run that far, but the triumph of being healthy and fit enough to run that far, day after day. I'm not aceing the test just yet, but I'm passing it with a respectable margin I think, and that's good to know, as I ease into my thirties. (I suspect others who are easing toward or into their thirties know why I'm saying that -- the late 20s/early 30s period seems to be the body's first round of trying to "get old".)
If you don't eat right, or if you aren't getting enough fluids, or enough sleep, or if you do something that exacts major punishment on your system (like smoking or hard drugs), or whatever, you won't be able to keep up a fitness regime of that level, at least not for long. The flipside of that is that if you commit yourself to getting hardcore about exercise, in whatever way suits you (it might not be running), you are going to have to shape up in the other arenas, if you haven't. Being overweight, or smoking, or not eating enough -- whatever it is, if you're doing something you shouldn't be doing, healthwise, and you commit yourself to getting hardcore about exercise, the bad habit is going to have to take a hike.
I'm not saying that to demotivate you (you, the theoretical person out there who wants to ramp up your healthiness) -- I don't mean to present a warning, but instead an opportunity. The opportunity is that if you have an unhealthy habit that you've had a hard time getting away from, you could come at it from a different angle. It can be hard to stop doing something that you're used to, and habits by nature are activities which provide some sort of satisfaction or enjoyment, on some level -- or else why would we do them so often as to become habits? So trying to quit the habit by the head-on method might not work -- it obviously doesn't for the millions of folks who actively and knowingly have bad health habits, myself included. However, picking up a new, good habit is considerably easier -- whether it's going swimming once a week, or taking a long walk every evening, or whatever.
Chances are you can find an exercise-based activity that gives you ancilliary enjoyment. Swimming is fun, running is calming, biking can lead to cool journeys, etc. If you can't find an exercise activity you enjoy, you probably aren't looking hard enough. So then you can find something you like, or a mix of things, and decide to do it once a week, or every other day, or however often, for whatever amount of time or distance -- and commit to increasing your effort as time goes on. I started my new running career by taking walks with my dog to the end of my road and back. At first I would run down the first big downhill part, and then walk the rest. Then I would run a little farther, and walk the rest. And so on. After a while it got to where I could get to this one point (about a mile down the road), but there was a big hill after that, and I would switch to walking, knowing I couldn't make it up that hill in the shape I was in. I stuck with that for a while, where I would just make a token few steps up the hill and then cop out to walking. This was a long time ago now, when I was just starting to get fit, and I couldn't imagine continuing running up that hill. Then one time I just decided not to stop jogging -- that I would keep putting one foot in front of the other as long as it was physically possible for me to do so. And just like that, I plugged my way up that hill, and kept going once I got to the top, another half-mile until the end of my road. And each time after that, the running portion went the whole 1.5 miles to the end of the road. Then I started doing the same thing with the return trip, and eventually I was running a 3 mile round trip.
It was that first threshold though -- that hill after one mile -- that was the big one. That was where I got over the idea that the limit was reliant principally on my physical capacity -- that I "couldn't" keep going up that hill, as tired as I already was. Basically, it was the moment where I had to choose whether I was serious about my effort to get into the new habit, or not. It took a whole lot longer for me to get to the point where I could keep running up that one hill than it did for me to get from that threshold to running 6 miles at one time (only one time, so far ;-)). Now I know that if I wanted to, I could train for and run in a marathon -- and I probably will, in due time. For now, I'm going to keep at the lap around my "block" that I do now until it's easy, day after day. Then I'll probably double it, or I'll speed it up. I'm going to add pull-ups and sit-ups into the mix soon too... but I'm getting ahead of myself. I should sign off for now, or I might never get this entry posted.
(Apologies to Stephen Covey for butchering his concept in my cheesy entry title.)
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.
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.
A random collection of updates and notes:
I talked with George Bryant, the father of the "Homeschooling standoff in Waltham" family, about what people can do to help their cause. He says that people have been swamping the offices of the Department of Social Services and the Superintendent of Schools, and that it does appear to have had some effect. The DSS have said (and written) to him that they do not plan to seek removal of the children. Apparently, the DSS only got involved in this at the behest of the school district, after they filed a complaint. George says that the best thing to do now would probably be to contact the Mayor of Waltham, who has some authority over the School Board, and who could potentially be persuaded to pressure them to stand down, and leave the Bryants alone.
Another interesting thing George told me is that the court refused to give them a jury trial in the dispute over their children, claiming that in Juvenile Court jury trials are only held for serious and violent crimes, and that there was no precedent for having a jury trial in a trial such as theirs. Which is weird, because the 6th and 7th Amendments appear to say that both the accused in criminal trials, and the participants in "Suits at common law" have the right to trial by jury.
I've posted a "Help the Bryants" action item over at E-Actions for Freedom, with the contact info for the Mayor and the local paper there.
Late addition: Here's a recent article about the national firestorm that has erupted over this case.
Also, I added a significant update to the story about Stan Pike and his battle with his local Historical Preservation Commission. The situation has been resolved, and I posted a couple news articles about it. I also posted my response to a comment about the story that was posted at my "Contact Me" page. And by strange coincidence, I recently met someone who just moved into Stan's neighborhood, and I added a note about that too. The fully updated post is here.
I'm announcing tonight to the LPCampusActivist e-mail list that I am offering free weblogs to any libertarian campus activist out there, hosted at CampusLP.org. With the base blog software set up there, adding new blogs amounts to just a few clicks and a couple other steps. I'm considering upgarding the free site hosting software that's installed there -- the current software is freeware, and it's pretty weak. There's a really robust program called HomeFree, which costs $299 (discounted because I have a friend with a coupon). I want to see if there's much demand for something like that, and if any campus groups would be willing to kick in for some of the cost, before I go ahead with it. With the old setup, only a large handful of clubs took me up on the offer, but there were also a lot less clubs on the list back then. I've been mulling over the HomeFree upgrade for a long time now, but 300 bucks is a significant outlay.
The free blogs are a go either way, though. And hopefully we can put together a good group blog for the front page, which I've tentatively named Campus Freedom Patrol.
This came up on the LPCampusActivist list, and I think it's funny. It came as a comment on a discussion about whether there's a difference between Democrats and Republicans. I haven't had a chance to research it, so I'll just include it as it was posted:
To paraphrase a great quote from former US Senator Malcolm Wallop, Republican from WY: 'if the Democrats introduced a bill to burn down the Congress, Whitehouse and Supreme Court all in one day, the Republicans would introduce a compromise bill to do it over the course of three days'
If you follow my site PNAC.info, you probably noticed a long stoppage of new entries there. Well, it's been over for a while, in part thanks to David Lynch (not the director, as far as I know), who kept poking me with e-mails begging me to get back on the ball with it. I had gotten away from it during my mother's long visit, and then got swept into a mass influx of new members at PeoplesForum.com before I was able to get back to it. David was very persistent in his urgings for new content there, and it's to his credit that he was. New articles have been flowing at PNAC.info for a while now, and I've got a big pile of other ones waiting in the wings.
If I can take a moment to pat myself on the back, I think the editorial selection and commentary on PNAC.info has made it into a very credible resource on neoconservativism and the Project for the New American Century, and the ramifications of their policy agenda. I read a LOT of articles that are relevant to that issue, and a great deal of them never make it onto that site because they are too overtly left-wing, or anti-Bush, or otherwise slanted or tainted. On the occasions that I've posted less-objective materials, I've generally been careful to note why I felt it worthwhile to include a slanted article. But the real measure is how many articles I've turned down -- I'd say at least 3 out of every 4, and maybe more like 7 out of every 8. And I think the result has been the formation of one of the most rational and mainstream-friendly (in content, if not in form) sources of information on this topic on the Internet. The response -- in site traffic, in offers to help, and in letters of support -- has been really great.
And I want to thank everyone who has been helping this site's rating on the Top 25 Libertarian Sites page. It's working -- the site is moving right on up the ratings, likely to reach #13 by tomorrow, and well on the way to being in the top 10, possibly as soon as next month. The climb from there to #1 is a much steeper one than what it's been so far, but I'm confident that we will arrive there eventually. It's likely we'll do so soon enough so that the site will spend a few years at that position, making countless good impressions on Libertarians everywhere before 2008. I'm sure there's already some folks who have had the "Huh? Who's this guy?" reaction that I'm trying to spread around. (It's the only reaction I can really hope for upon first impression at this point, I think. It's not a bad one.)
And lastly for now, I bought 15,000 text ad impressions at the EatonWeb portal, a major portal site for weblogs. It's not as wild as you might think -- it was $5.25. Just a test run. It has barely started, so it's too early to say if it's paying off or not.
This campaign blog elicited a brief passing mention in an article about blogging at The Dagley Dagley Daily, an apparently new weblog started by a woman with the curious name of Janet Dagley Dagley. She appears to have some previous journalistic experience writing for AIRSPACE, the "only quarterly journal in the United States created by and for independents working in public and community radio." The blog article is a draft version of a final article which is supposed to appear in that publication later this month...it's questionable whether that article will provide a link to the site, as the blog entry does.
It hasn't brought much traffic, but it's nice to see that my efforts to make this a notable campaign blog have earned some dividends. (Though in checking the Google search results for "campaign blog" and "campaign weblog", I can see I have some work to do in that respect.)
BTW, I was correct about that weekend festival eating up most of my activist time and energy this weekend...and I have the NCLP monthly meeting to attend to tonight. We're showing Rabbit-Proof Fence, a highly acclaimed (and apparently very libertarian-themed) movie about Australian anti-Aborigine "racial purity" policies in the 1930's. I haven't seen it yet, but every review I've heard so far has ranged from "It's really good!" to "It's really great!" -- so I'm looking forward to it.
Also on this week's activism schedule -- I'm giving a presentation on the "USA-PATRIOT Act" for a local high school Government class. It's going to be the basis for their final exam, no less! And it will be videotaped for the local cable access TV station. I should be able to get the video from it onto the site at some point in the future.
Somewhere in the midst of all this, I actually work a full-time for-pay job, believe it or not. I know people joke about how we're supposed to have flying cars and all sorts of futuristic conveniences by now, but I'd be happy if they'd just figure out how to get an extra hundred hours or so into a week. ;-)
Moti Silberstein wrote me an e-mail recently, saying:
Even if you win the 2008 nomination what will it help everyone? You are not going to win? Wouldn't it seem better to try to bring your local government under control or even your state. We need dedicated people but nationally as a Pres candidate is a waste of time and money?
It turns out that my long-winded reply didn't really answer what moti was trying to get at, and I may post more of our discussion tomorrow, but my repsonse ended up covering a lot of ground in terms of explaining myself and the campaign, including my thinking when I started it in 1994, and a bunch of other things.
Here's my reply:
At the very least, I think my campaign will help to advance the progress of the freedom movement. The LP is going to have a presidential nominee in 2008 whether I run or not -- I think I will be the best representative available for that position at that time. And the LP should have a presidential nominee, regardless of whether that person will win or not. It's the single best opportunity the party has to state its vision to the country at large. It also earns the party necessary (and justified) credibility in politics. The LP has had a presidential candidate on 50 ballots for three elections in a row -- no other third party in history has done that even twice in a row. That means something -- it means that the LP has historically unprecedented staying power as a national third party. And that matters, in terms of the respect the party gets from the media and other entities.
Changing a country this size -- and a government this size -- doesn't happen overnight. There are and will be short-term gains to be made, and there will also be long-term victories. I've decided to focus much of my energy toward long-term gains, and primarily at the national level. Everyone who cares has to focus on some thing or things to do to advance liberty in their own way, and one way I think I can add unique value to the movement is by dedicating a significant portion of my time, over a very long period of time, toward developing a presidential campaign that will shake the foundations of the modern political scene. I think most people who know me would say that I have many qualities that lend themselves well to potentially achieving that goal. I decided long ago that it was an achievable possibility, and I have allotted a great deal of time and energy in my life toward giving it a try. My view has long been that if I *am* capable of achieving that goal, and I didn't try, I'd be cheating myself -- and everyone who would benefit from being liberated from our corrupt and dysfunctional political system.
I reasoned that there must be a certain limited pool of people who could or would possibly be able to manage to break through in the necessarily-impactful way, and manage the situation well enough to get the job done if elected. I also reasoned that for each of those people, the odds of them successfully achieving that goal were astronomically low. Many people are resigned to the view that there will never be such a breakthrough opportunity, which gives an indication of how insurmountable-seeming a goal it is. Many of the folks who could be the president we need won't ever consider even trying, and many more who do try will never make it past the starting gate. Of those remaining, many will make a misstep, or have a weakness which renders them inoperative. And only a few, if any, of the people left will have the dedication or commitment to go through the entire trial by fire that getting elected (and serving as) President is.
Which I figured leaves America's chances of escaping the quicksand looking pretty bleak.
I determined that I was one of those people who could possibly do it, and decided that I was going to devote most of my life toward trying to be the one who didn't give up and didn't fail. I decided that almost ten years ago, and I am still on course. I still think I could be the one that successfully breaks through, and as long as I believe that is a possibility, I will work to pursue that goal.
While my broad focus is on that goal, my activities consist of a wide range of political and societal efforts on many different levels. I am Chairman of my county Libertarian Party group, and I spend a great deal of time working to advance liberty (and the party) locally. I have participated in over a hundred local events of that sort in the past few years -- from organizing multiple major public events, to tabling at street fairs, to attending other political party's meetings and Board of Supervisor's meetings and rallies, to appearing regularly on the local cable news, to holding a Candidate's Forum, and a Bill of Rights Essay Contest for high schoolers...I could go on -- a lot. In the past two years or so, I've been involved in a positive way with all but one of my county Supervisors (and the two who were defeated in 2002), the local DA, the police chiefs of all three cities, the county Sheriff, the head of the local CHP, the county librarian, Nevada City's mayor, the leadership of the local Greens, Republicans and Democrats, the Superintendent of Schools, both local radio stations and all local papers -- specifically, the Editor and Publisher at the major paper, the Editors of all the others, the News Director of one of the local radio stations and the Station Director at the other, and I'm on very good terms with the Director of the local community access TV station. I'm a certified broadcaster with the local community radio station, and a certified TV producer at the local cable station.
I'm involved with my state party as well -- I was a delegate at this year's state convention in fact -- and I have been involved with a wide range of efforts involving medical marijuana, which is very much a state-wide issue -- and I have worked closely with many of the most prominent people in that movement here, from Steve Kubby to Elvy Musikka, and many more. I'm helping the Recall Gray Davis effort, and I'm almost half-considering running for the job in the recall election. (Ballot access is relatively easy for the race, and there are likely to be many candidates, because it's not a one-per-party election. The winner doesn't need to get a majority of the votes, which means that someone could potentially win with less than 10% support.)
I also keep in touch with campus organizations, both locally and nationwide. I've attended at least 5 meetings of our (not directly libertarian) local campus action group this year, generally playing a primary role in the meetings. I was a major planner in their Books Not Bombs rally this March, at which I worked a table for my local LP, along with the Chairman of the party in the next county. It was there that I met the county's most prominent gun control advocates, with whom I am on very good terms now. I subscribe to the LPCampusActivist e-mail list, where I keep up on most of the libertarian groups around the country, and offer advice from my years of experience as a successful campus organizer when possible. In my upcoming road trip, I intend to make fostering local and campus efforts one of my primary focuses. I will help groups improve and advance their efforts in whatever way I can, and I will work with them to start new groups in unrepresented locations.
Not everything I do is overtly political though. For the past three years, I've lived on the grounds of a land stewardship project, and have worked hundreds of hours clearing the land for fire safety (and to help restore the pine tree population), building trails, and doing maintenance and cleanup work, while helping to pay off the mortgage on this protected property. I volunteered at the local radio station for a while, and helped produce a late-night music show there for a while too. I'm developing a project called the Free School on the Internet, which will aim to be a cost-free alternative for families who want to escape the public school system. I hope to have the school open and showing positive results before 2008. I am also setting my sights on running a series of job fairs for the homeless in the major cities around the country -- an idea I've had for a long time. Through my non-profit organization Future Solutions, I intend to create solutions to the problems that government is so often looked to to solve. There are a lot more projects on the list, but those two will be the likely first round. I plan to gradually phase out of my responsibilities (and pay) as CEO of PeoplesForum.com and into the role of Director of Future Solutions over the course of the rest of this year. I will seek foundation funding for my Free School project, and go from there. I am quite certain that I can obtain funding to further develop that project.
I have also created a number of websites dedicated to inspiring change or action in individuals in states and localities all over the globe, and many of them have done exactly that. I will continue to create more websites of that nature. I run CampusLP.org, which offers free websites to any campus libertarian club, and plan to launch CountyLP.org, which will be dedicated to information-sharing and coordination among the county libertarian groups around the country. One of my other websites Stopcarnivore.org has had hundreds of thousands of visitors from over 150 countries. One of my newest sites, PNAC.info, had almost 15,000 visits in its first month, and another site that I'm planning (coalitionoftheunwilling.net) has the potential to attract and affect millions of people.
All of which is to say that my presidential ambitions don't detract from my efforts to achieve short-term change, on every level, in a number of ways. I have "wasted" very little time or money in the past 9 years of running for president, and most of my plans for the next decades fit the same pattern. Very little of what I do is directly related to running for president -- but it's all part of becoming the presidential candidate I'll need to be. All that stuff (and enough more to bore you to tears) is my presidential campaign, in a way.
I acknowledged long ago that any non-bipartisan presidential candidate has the game stacked against them, and I concluded that my biggest asset (besides myself) was time. Time to develop a thorough and comprehensive strategy and time to bring it together. And time to develop a thorough and comprehensive character and system of ethics, and bring that together. I plan to continue running, if necessary, until 2024 -- every 8 years. I have a deep well of skills, strategies, and ideas devoted to increasing my chances of becoming the presidential candidate this country wants and needs, and I have the dedication and tenacity to see it through the whole way. If it can be done, I aim to do it -- and if it can't, then I will have spent 30 years doing a massive amount of work to help advance the ideas and practices of individual liberty, on every level from the personal to the global. Which is the best I could hope to do with my life.
There is no book which has had a greater influence on me than Atlas Shrugged.
I first read Atlas when I was 15. My favorite teacher ever, Jim Duquette, was a major fan of Ayn Rand -- a rarity among high school educators, I believe. He was a rarity in almost every way possible -- a truly extraordinary teacher. Fearless, funny, super-energetic, a little bit crazy, strict but soft, demanding yet understanding. He had such a zest for life, and for learning, and for, as he said, "getting at the meat" of things. He passed away last year, and I regret that it had been years since I had visited him or talked with him. He ranks as one of the top 5 influences on my development, and probably will hold that standing for the rest of my life.
A big reason why I treasure Mr. Duquette so much is because he introduced me to Ayn Rand. When I read Atlas Shrugged, it was like I was reading an epic permission slip for me to be what I had become -- confident, individualistic, unrelenting in pursuit of my achievements, and unbending to the pressures and whims of others.
I had long been a bit of a self-imposed outcast among my peers -- I was very smart, I was cocky and sarcastic, and I was unique almost to a fault.
An example (and you're going to think I'm really weird): For most of my youth from 5th grade on, I wore button-down "dress shirts". (Eventually this evolved to unbuttoned dress shirts with a t-shirt underneath, which is quite often still my major mode of "fashion".) Anyway, in 6th or 7th grade I decided for some reason to start rolling one sleeve of my shirt up, while leaving the other down. If I had to explain it now, I'd say I was challenging the norms and expectations of my peers -- a fancy way of saying I was just doing it to be weird, which is what I thought of it at the time. I wore my shirt like that, every day, for quite some time -- I can't recall if it was weeks or months, but it was quite a while. When people would ask me why I had one sleeve rolled up and the other down -- and they did ask me, regularly -- I would usually respond with, "Why do you have both sleeves rolled down (or up)?" The answer was, of course, that they were conforming to the norm, and some would say something to that effect -- "Because that's how you're supposed to wear them,", or "Because that's the normal way to wear them." Most, however, would just express frustration, or say "You're weird." That was not the first or the only time I was weird on purpose, but I remember it the best of all of them, because it was so overt, and because it was really a significant test. The pressure to conform is practically almighty in K-12 school, and at some level as a child, I recognized that I had no interest in submitting to such a thing. Which isn't to say I never followed a trend, or felt embarassment, or conformed to what my friends and peers wanted of me -- I did each of those things sometimes -- but more often than not I consciously or unconsciously resisted those pressures, and I sought to look, act, and speak up in a way that broke the norms, or challenged the expectations of those around me. I can't begin to estimate the number of times I was told "You're weird." Or, for that matter, the number of times I saw the look in a teacher's eyes that indicated that I made them nervous -- not fearful of physical harm, but nervous because they knew they did not control me. Sort of an "Oh my God, what do I do with this one?" look.
And it was hard, being like that. Challenging people is either my nature or I learned it very young, because I've been doing it for as long as I can remember -- and most of the earliest stories of me are stories of me disobeying or resisting in some way. And if you've been through school, you must know how hard it is to not be accepted, or to stand up against peer pressure. I basically made an effort to not be accepted, and stood up to peer pressure every time I could. And it was hard. I'm not complaining -- I'm just sayin'.
But then I met Ayn Rand, through a little huge book called Atlas Shrugged. And Ayn taught me that being unique, standing out, achieving and being smart, and resisting peer pressure were all good things. She taught me that pursuit of my happiness -- in the broadest sense of the term -- was supposed to be my main objective, and it wasn't my job to do what others wanted me to do to make them happy. She gave me permission to be me -- she showed me me, in the characters of her book, and she showed me the people who had tried to mold and control me as well. She laid out clearly what was wrong with what they were trying to do, and why it was right for me to do what I was trying to do.
But that was only half of the bargain, and the other half of the bargain almost certainly helped me more than the first. Part A of the bargain, which I had intuited all my life, was "you get to do what you want, you get to decide if you're right or wrong, and being selfish is not just OK -- it's the right thing to do." That's the "permission to be me" part. But for Part A to work, you have to do Part B -- you have to live morally. You get to decide if you're right, but you have to actually be right. You get to do what you want, but you have to do the right thing. Being selfish is the right thing to do -- as long as you are living a good and productive and moral life.
Part A of the deal went pretty quickly for me. I had already been training to be an utterly unique egomaniac for a long time. I got my permission slip, and just went back to being weird me, with that much more zest. And as you can tell, I never looked back. But Part B has become a lifelong journey.
Up until then, I was basically winging it. I didn't have a philosophy to speak of -- I just did what I felt like doing. I didn't have much of a moral structure -- I knew the basics, like don't hurt people, etc., and I had honesty as a characteristic deeply ingrained in me, but that was about it. I didn't have any rules for myself, unless you count "be weird" and "make trouble" as rules. ;-)
Ayn Rand didn't so much teach me the rules -- she showed me why there are rules, and why it's important to figure them out and follow them. Ayn Rand's philosophy is called Objectivism -- it's a whole school of philosophy that started with her -- and its two main premises are essentially (I paraphrase heavily), "Reality is. Deal with it.", and "Human achievement rocks!"
The extension of "Reality is. Deal with it." is that there is a system to how things work, from the physical to the psychological to the philosophical to the sociological and so on. The system is knowable and definable thing. That's "Reality is." Ayn Rand says it most often as "A is A." "Deal with it" means that your job is to follow the rules of the system in the correct way. Not the rules that are handed down from people, or written in rulebooks and religions -- the natural rules. In other words, doing what's right -- what you, as an entity in a system defined by rules, are supposed to be doing.
It's not as lame as it sounds, because what you're supposed to be doing is maximizing you -- being the most you, the unique you, that you can possibly be. That ties into the other premise of Objectivism -- "Human achievement rocks!" Ayn believed that mankind was pretty damn amazing, and that when unleashed -- when let free -- humans are capable of phenomenal achievements. She thought that when individuals work toward their greatest achievement -- doing what it is they love best, and doing it the best they can -- that the greatest good could be achieved. She thought that that was the proper moral system.
I couldn't agree more. Practically since the first year I read it, people have been telling me that I would grow out of my "Ayn Rand phase", and now as often as not people will try to look down their nose and say "Oh, I used to really like her when I was young/a teenager/in college, but then..." Fill in the blank -- "...I grew out of it", "...I got out in the real world and learned that it's not always black and white like she says", "...I grew to realize that sometimes you need to compromise..." , etc.. Well it's 15 years later, I've read the book 4 or 5 times now (once every few years), and my "Ayn Rand phase" is getting along just fine -- showing no signs of stopping. So as not to offend all the people who told me I'd grow out of it, I'll continue to entertain the idea that it's just a phase -- but just between you and me and the world wide web...I think it's permanent.
I don't agree with everything Ayn Rand said or believed in, I don't necessarily hold all the same values that she held, and her and I come from very different backgrounds and as a result see the world in a very different way -- but I believe that most of the tenets of her philosophy are true. I think she was right a lot more than she was wrong. And I value Atlas Shrugged as much as or more than I ever have in the past. If someone demanded a one-book-only essential reading list from me, it would say Atlas Shrugged. I'd probably put a smiley face next to it.
(There's a lot of clarification and explanation I'd like to stuff into here, but it will have to wait for another entry. I could go on at quite great length about this topic, and likely will in due time.)
On that note, onto the news that prompted this entry: it looks like Atlas Shrugged is finally going to be made into a movie. People have been trying to make that happen for over 30 years, and there have been three and a half failed attempts during that time, most recently in 2001. But it sounds like some pretty hardcore folks have hold of it now -- people with money, names, and serious dedication to making it happen. The screenwriter has done bunches of big-name book-to-movies, and has read the book 4 times in the past 6 months. They're talking about making it big budget, with known stars -- the whole shebang. And they're all into it because they are into Ayn Rand's vision, and sharing that vision with as big an audience as possible.
I'm trying not to get too worked up about it just yet, but this would be pretty sweet if it pans out. Atlas is an enormously popular book -- I'll never tire of the fact that it ranked the second most influential book in an important survey, after The Bible. The idea of getting tens of millions of people all worked up about it via a big Hollywood movie makes me smile. I don't want to start musing about the potential impact it could have until I see more confirmation that it's actually going to happen. But, woo hoo! :-)
Some articles (each as good as the next, all with worthy tidbits):
The Objectivist Center: Film Company to Bring "Atlas Shrugged" to the Screen
Box Office Mojo: 'Atlas Shrugged,' Take Five
Box Office Mojo: 'Atlas Shrugged:' Who is James Hart?
(about the screenwriter)
If you want, you can buy the book and help support my campaign:
I run a discussion website called PeoplesForum.com. If you've been involved in online discussion forums, you may know that some of them allow people to choose a user picture, and what's generally called a "tagline" -- a second line of information that goes under the name. Usually it's a quote, or some sort of descriptive info about the person, or sometimes a website they like. Well, I just came up with a new tagline at PF, and I really like it. I was going to just mention it in passing, but I happen to have saved my previous taglines (since I stopped using the boring "CEO/Editor-In-Chief" or some variation on that), and there are some cool quotes and stuff in them, so I figured I'd share them with y'all. Not all of them are political, but they all provide a little insight into my attitude and personality.
In most cases, my tagline and picture have not been connected. I've used pictures of myself, or of my pets. More recently though, as my discontent with the Bush Administration has mounted, I've taken to posting more aggressive user pictures, and often in concert with a tagline that works with the picture. I'll post the associated pictures when relevant. I'm going to go from oldest to newest, so the more aggressive stuff will be at the end, with my new (and possibly favorite) one being last. Here you go:
"My interest in the future is because I am going to spend the rest of my life there." -- Charles F. Kettering
"Instead of telling our representatives there ought to be a law, let's tell them there ought to be a freedom." -- Mari Werner
"Loyalty to the country always; loyalty to the government when it deserves it." -- Mark Twain (via Utah Phillips)
"No tears to cry; No feelings left; This species has amused itself to death." -- Roger Waters
"The government's current rush to abandon any pretense of social responsibility ought to make this painfully clear: what the state supposedly giveth it promptly taketh away as soon as the balance of social power shifts." -- Ellen Willis
Believe in butterflies; if they can fly a thousand miles, imagine what you can do.
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." -- Alan Kay
I get knocked down, but I get up again
I'm the sysop your mother warned you about.
a day alive is a good day
Note: Then the war on Iraq started, and so did my aggressive tagline/picture combos.
I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the global empire of America. And to the militarization for which it stands...one nation, under Bush, unstoppable, with occupation and domination for all. Praise Allah!
Note: The above picture is an image from the CIA's website, under the title "Terrorist Busters".
member of the coalition of the unwilling
And my current combo, inspired in part by Stan Pike:
member of the coalition of the unwilling
(Note: Yes, there's been another two-day lag after I said I was getting back on the ball...but I don't have excuses this time. I've simply been plugging away at this enormous entry for two days, and I didn't want to back away from it and just post some filler news item. Hopefully you'll find it to have been worth the wait.)
Ever wondered where I get my news and information? Sure you have. Well, most of it comes to me via e-mail -- lots and lots of e-mail.
Following is a partial list of the e-mail update lists I'm subscribed to, with comments, descriptions, and sign-up info. I don't read all of these e-mails all the time -- I'm pretty sure that would be impossible, but I do my best to keep up with them as much as I can. They are listed in no particular order...maybe I'll prioritize or categorize them sometime if I can. Also, believe it or not, this list is incomplete. I'm going to make this a permanent link on the left somewhere, so feel free to check back and see if there are any changes or additions. Enjoy!
Small Government News -- Updates from Carla Howell, former candidate for U.S. Senate (2000) and Governor (2002) and Michael Cloud, 2002 candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, my birthplace. They were also behind the 2002 Small Government Act, a ballot initiative to end the income tax in Mass., which surprised everyone by almost passing, with 45% of the vote.
FreedomWire-- Updates and commentaries from Harry Browne, Libertarian Party candidate for president in 1996 and 2000. Harry's commentaries are always intelligent, well-written, and all-around worthwhile.
The Liberty Committee -- Founded by U.S. Representative Ron Paul, a Republican who's the closest thing to a libertarian that we have in Congress, The Liberty Committee is dedicated to bringing freedom into Congress in any way it can. Updates are usually either action items or new commentaries or speeches from Ron Paul.
Free-Market.net's monthly newsletter -- I've lavished praise on Free-Market.net many times in the past, and I will surely do so in the future. They are a libertarian portal, with a vast wealth of resources, information, and links related to liberty, as well as a bunch of valuable services like e-mail lists, monthly giveaways and more. Free-Market.net -- and just about everything they do -- kicks butt. There's a spot to subscribe in the middle column of their home page, a little ways down the page. Free-Market.net almost ran aground a few months back, and was saved by the International Society for Individual Liberty, a group that kicks a fair amount of butt as well.
Freedom News Daily (from Free-Market.net) -- This is simply the best daily news e-zine I've ever seen. Good and bad news about freedom from all over the Internet, every day. I can't read it every day, because I bury myself in news stories and commentaries when I do, but even just scanning their headlines and summaries provides a major dose of awareness about news and ideas around the world. If I had to pick just one e-zine to keep getting, this would be the one, without question. If I could think of more superlatives and praise to heap on it I would, but for now let's move on. Hopefully you get the point.
Rational Review News Digest -- When Free-Market.net was near the brink of disappearance, they laid everyone off and shut down many of their services, including Freedom News Daily, for a while. Tom Knapp and others from Free-Market.net quickly picked up the ball and started the Rational Review News Digest. Freedom News Daily is back, but RRND continues. I haven't had a chance to compare the two, but you can check out the listings on the home page for each and see for yourself. I can say that RRND did a good job of filling the void left by FND during its downtime. You'd do well to sign up for either, or both.
Future of Freedom Foundation Updates -- FFF is a think tank of serious libertarian thinkers and researchers, led by Jacob Hornberger. They work to "advance the libertarian philosophy by providing an uncompromising moral and economic case for individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government." (<--from their mission statement) Serious, intelligent, and uncompromising are the hallmark characteristics of their work -- though they have taken to including links to libertarian-themed cartoons...so maybe they're not so serious all the time. Anything written by the principals of FFF is bound to be unflinching, passionate, and hard to refute.
Jacob Hornberger -- Mentioned above, Jacob used to send out non-FFF e-mails for a while. He was a contender for the LP presidential nomination in 2000, and for a long while he maintained a relentless pursuit of allegations of impropriety on the part of Harry Browne and his associates, particularly Perry Willis. He was eventually proven at least partly right (you can see the LP's news on that here and here, and can see many links about the whole controversy via this Google search, but he did some damage to his standing within the LP in the course of his pursuit. I tried to go to his home page, JacobGHornberger.com, where all his writings about his were collected, but as you'll see if you click that, it now redirects to an FFF page featuring his many FFF writings over the years. I don't know if he'll be sending out more updates to his personal list, and I can't see a way to sign up for them, but I guess I'm subscribed to his list if it still exists.
Steve Kubby/Pot-TV -- There's so much I could say about Steve Kubby. Former LP candidate for Governor in California. Medical marijuana refugee in Canada. Major rabble-rouser and revolutionary. Co-host of online show Pot-TV News/The Kubby Files. Personal friend of mine. That's just scratching the surface. Visit Kubby.com to see lots more about Steve and his wife Michele, and subscribe to his updates (down at the bottom of the page) if you want to see how someone fights the system, again and again, in a truly remarkable way.
Reason Express -- Published by Reason Online, an extension of Reason magazine, one of the most popular and reputable libertarian publications in the world. There's always something worthwhile in Reason Express.
Liberator Online -- The Advocates for Self-Government focus mostly on preaching to the converted -- trying to help libertarians become more effective communicators of libertarian ideas. Their e-mail update, the Liberator Online includes (among other things) "Ask Dr. Ruwart", a Q & A feature with Mary Ruwart, author of the fabulous Healing Our World), "Persuasion Power Points" by the above-mentioned Michael Cloud, plus all sorts of libertarian movement news and other goodies. They claim the Liberator is the world's largest-circulation libertarian e-mail newsletter, and with 56,000+ subscribers, they are probably right. (The Advocates also host the World's Smallest Political Quiz, a semi-famous short quiz which places people on a four-axis political "map". If you've never tried the quiz, you should.)
Libertarian Clips -- Another publication from the Advocates for Self-Government, Libertarian Clips is a weekly or daily update which lists stories from all over which feature the word "libertarian" in them. It's a neat service.
Freedom Page of The Week -- This update, which is pretty self-explanatory, was put out by Free-Market.net. It seems to have gone idle since Free-Market.net's temporary shut-down of a few months ago, but hopefully it will rise again. You can check out the past editions at the link above, and apparently you can still subscribe to it, and join me in waiting with bated breath for its return.
Liberty Action of the Week -- This is another former Free-Market.net service that was picked up by one of the laid-off editors there (Mary Lou Seymour), now under the rubric of Rational Review. It's pretty obvious what it is...you can subscribe at the bottom of the page linked above.
MoveOn.org -- This liberal-leaning group sprouted up from the rubble of the Clinton impeachment hooha, and has grown into quite the massive e-force since. I'm not always (or even often) on the same page as them, but they are jammin' activists with increasing clout (claiming over 2 million (!) subscribers), so I stay tuned into what they are up to.
Ralph Nader/CitizenWorks -- I'd be surprised if Ralph Nader and I agree with each other on more than 50% of things, but he's a substantial anti-establishment force, and an expert rabble-rouser and organizer. There's a lot about Ralph Nader I like, and there's a lot I can learn from him. Plus, as you'll see as this list continues, I keep my eye on plenty of groups that aren't necessarily on my side.
NFRA Updates -- I couldn't tell you how I got on the National Federation of Republican Assemblies' e-mail updates list ("The Conservative Republican E-mail Newsletter"), and I can barely stand to read their e-mails, particularly now that GOP fever is sweeping the nation, but I poke my head in every now and then just to see what they're spreading. 9.5 times out of 10, it's stuff I want no part of.
ACLU Action Updates -- If you're conscious and over the age of 15 or so, you probably know who the ACLU is. Their action updates have been particularly important during the post-9/11 war on freedom. I've been subscribed to this list for almost 3 years now. You can sign up in the upper right corner of their home page.
LibertyWire -- Updates from the American Liberty Foundation. The ALF was founded by Harry Browne and Perry Willis, with the goal of marketing libertarian ideas through mass media -- primarily TV and radio. They raise money for individual ad campaigns on select issues. Their first foray was television ads about the 2nd Amendment and self-defense; those were followed up by radio ads on a similar theme, and more recently, radio ads against the war in Iraq. Their updates announce their campaigns as they come, and also feature frequent commentaries from Harry Browne and others in the ALF. You can sign up near the bottom of their home page.
Libertarian Party of California Updates -- These updates let me know of important California action items, LPC campaigns, etc.
Libertarian Party Updates-- The LP sends out a wide variety of items to their update list -- press releases, upcoming media appearances, fundraising appeals, action items -- basically this, that, and the other thing as relates to liberty on the national level. Which isn't meant to downplay the value of their updates -- I very much enjoy and would recommend them.
LPCampusActivist -- This is a moderated Yahoo Group list where college and high school Libertarian clubs share ideas, suggestions, and news about campus organizing. Philosophical and political discussion and bickering is kept to a minimum, so folks can focus on the actual mechanics of effective campus-based activism. Campus activism is near to my heart, and every now and then I blast out a nice beefy e-mail of tips and suggestions that I picked up from my experiences at UMass/Amherst. In between, I like to hear what everyone else is up to. I'll be spending a lot of time working with campus LP groups in the next few years-- much of my campaign will be focused on college campuses and helping out college clubs around the country.
Alliance for Separation of School and State -- This organization is dedicated to just what it sounds like -- breaking the ties between government and schooling. Personally, I find the idea of government being the primary provider of education not only nonsensical, but disturbing. Isn't that the kind of thing we would cite as evidence of a controlling dictatorship, like Saddam Hussein's or the former USSR? Seems so to me. The Alliance's founder Marshall Fritz has been having serious health problems, so communication from them has been less regular than it used to be, but I enjoy hearing from them when I do. You can sign up for their updates in the lower left of their home page. If you're down with their mission, also make sure to sign their "Proclamation for the Separation of School and State". You get a nice certificate if you do so. :-) I have mine hung up on the wall here in my office.
EducationalFreedom.com Weekly News -- This is a jam-packed weekly update of news relating to, well, educational freedom. Homeschooling news, outrageous bureaucracy news, 'Net education news, etc. You can see the latest update here, and this link will pop-up an e-mail you can send to subscribe.
iFeminists.com News -- Updates from "the home for individualist feminism on the net." This ain't your mother's feminism -- it's better. ;-) There's a subscribe box down a bit on the right of the home page.
Joe Banister/Freedom Above Fortune -- Joe Banister is a former IRS cop, who was converted into a fervent opponent of the IRS through research he did while working there, and due to the treatment he received when he tried to engage his superiors about his discoveries. It's hard to explain in short form, but basically he concluded that the IRS was conducting itself in a way that seemed to conflict with the Constitution and the law, and thus his service was in conflict with his otah of office. He was rebuked for his efforts, and consequently resigned and devoted himself to exposing and confronting the agency he once loved and respected. There are lots of links on the side of the mailing list signup page where you can learn more about Joe and his efforts.
We The People -- I've talked about Bob Schulz a few times in the past -- he's the hardcorest of hardcore anti-IRS crusaders. Through the We The People foundation, he relentlessly seeks answers to a long list of questions concerning the constitutionality of the income tax. I can't get into it all here, but there's plenty of information on his site. His updates are great to get, if only to see how a remarkably bold person goes about challenging one of the most powerful agencies on the planet. Sign up here.
Arianna Huffington's Column -- You've probably heard of columnist/pundit/author Arianna Huffington. I don't always agree with her solutions, but I almost always agree with her critiques of politicians, and her columns are amusing and well-researched. She's probably my favorite syndicated columnist, and the only major one whose columns I subscribe to by e-mail.
Michael Moore's List -- If you don't know who Michael Moore is, you might want to check your pulse. Bowling for Columbine, Stupid White Men, TV Nation/The Awful Truth, Roger & Me -- sounding familiar now? Michael and I are often pretty far apart when it comes to issues and solutions, but I love rabble rousers -- and few people rouse the rabble as impactfully as Michael Moore.
Butterfly Gardeners Association -- I'm not really a big butterfly fanatic, though my appreciation of them has grown through my contact with Alan Moore and the BGA. I don't recall how I first came in contact with Alan, but I've been on his list for years now. It's not all about butterflies. Check out the site and see what you think. There's a link there to e-mail Alan and get on his list.
Nevada County Green Party's GoWeGo list -- I get along well with the Nevada County Green Party, even though a lot of folks would say I should consider them rivals. I do consider them competition, but not rivals. We've worked together in the past, and I've worked with individual Greens on almost every major local event I've been involved in in the past couple years, including the Funeral for the Bill of Rights, the Public Forum on Law Enforcement and the War on Terror. Their "GoWeGo" e-mail discussion list (named after a chant Ralph Nader coined in response to an audience saying "Go, Ralph, Go!") is one of Nevada County's best forums for activism news, both local and national.
Peace Center of Nevada County list -- See above, more or less...except that Utah Phillips is a founder and major player in the Peace Center. Their list, activities, and crowd are frequently in concert with the local Greens, but they're distinct organizations with different leadership.
NRDC's Earth Action -- I don't always agree with the Natural Resources Defense Council's urges for action, but as I've mentioned, that's not always a prerequisite for me when it comes to e-mail subscriptions.
Libertarians for Peace lists -- Libs4Peace is the anti-war, non-interventionist conscience of the Libertarian Party. It's not an official LP group -- just a group of Libertarians (myself included) focused on making sure the LP strictly adheres to its principles in regard to war and defense policy. They have two lists -- a regular discussion list and an organizing list. There's a link at the top of their home page to the listserve signup info.
The Lighthouse - This weekly newsletter from the Independent Institute contains a few good stories about current events from a libertarian perspective, plus information about their excellent events and activities. You can subscribe from the Institute's home page, or The Lighthouse's subscribe page.
Self Improvement Newsletter from SelfGrowth.com -- Nothing political here, just self-help tips, inspirational quotes, book and product reviews, and the like. SelfGrowth.com offers a number of e-mail lists, which you can choose from here.
TruthOut -- I've talked about TruthOut before -- they serve up a healthy handful of dissident commentaries and news items that probably won't be on the nightly news. I just got on this list a few months ago, and I'll probably stay on it forever. I donated some money to them a while ago, and more recently signed up as a monthly pledger. Sign up here.
Burning Man updates -- Burning Man is an extraordinary annual event that takes place in the desert in northern Nevada for a week at the end of August. It's simply impossible to summarize properly, but let's say it's an experiment in temporary community based on self-expression and participation. There's nothing else quite like it on earth -- and that's an understatement. They send out e-mail updates weekly all year, leading up to the big week at the end of August. Check out the extensive web site here, and sign up for the e-mail updates here. Maybe I'll see you there!
GOP Team Leader -- I heard about the GOP Team Leader program a couple months ago when there was a semi-scandal due to team leaders submitting non-original letters to the editor, and I signed up so I can see what the Republicans are feeding their stalwart. Don't worry, I haven't been -- and won't be -- converted. File this one under the "know your enemy" column. And, for the sake of balance, I just signed up for...
Democratic National Committtee Updates -- See above. The more propaganda I'm aware of, the better!
E-The People's Newsletter -- E-ThePeople features political forums, as well as tools for starting petitions and writing letters to public officials. their e-newsletter provides an overview of what's going on at their site. To get their updates, sign up as a member.
NorCal Libertarians -- This is an e-mail list for Libertarians in Northern California.
SacLPS -- This is the e-mail list of the Libertarian Party of Sacramento County, near-neighbors of mine.
IGreens -- IGreens is an individualist environmentalist news service based in the UK. You can sign up a little ways down their home page.
Act For Change -- This is an action items e-mail list published by Working Assets, the liberal-cause-supporting phone company. They got on my bad side when they urged folks to pressure the Green candidate for Senate in Minnesota to drop out of the 2002 race so he wouldn't "steal" Walter Mondale's votes and cause him to lose. I often disagree with their action items, but that one really ticked me off. You can get their Democrat-shilling updates by signing up. (It's free -- you don't need to sign up for the phone service.)
PSR Security Alerts -- PSR is Physicians for Social Responsibility, a coalition of health professionals looking to combat nuclear proliferation and other manifestations of violence, in the name of protecting human life. Their site breaks down by topic, and I'm signed up for their alerts pertaining to national security issues. You can sign up here.
I'll continue to revise and extend this entry as I am reminded of other lists that I'm on. I know there are more, but not surprisingly it's hard for me to remember them all of the top of my head.
Lance Marshall Brown
Born: August 20, 1972 -- Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Hometown: Dalton, Massachusetts
Lance Brown is the CEO of PeoplesForum.com, an online debate and discussion community which he co-founded in 1998. He is also the Director of Future Solutions, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding non-coercive, non-governmental solutions to society's problems. He lives in Nevada City, California.
Lance is extremely active in political causes devoted to advancing individual liberty. He is the Chairman of the Nevada County Libertarian Party, and a co-founder of the Nevada County Bill of Rights Defense Committtee. He appears regularly as a panelist on "The Nevada County News Hour" on the local community access TV station, FCAT, and has received coverage in all of the local print and broadcast media.
Lance has also created a number of online projects and web sites, which are at various stages of development. Some of Lance's online projects include:
1987 - Junior Achievement - regional Vice President of the Year
1988 - Junior Achievement - regional President of the Year
1988 - Delegate to National Junior Achievement Conference
1989 - Attended Presidential Classroom Scholars Program
1989-90 - Attended University of Southern California
1990-91, 1992-94 - Attended University of Massachusetts at Amherst
1991-94 - President, UMass Cannabis Reform Coalition (UMACRC)/Pioneer Valley NORML
1993-94 - President, Van Meter House Council (UMass)
1994 - Launched presidential campaign
1994-95 - Public Relations Officer, UMACRC/PV NORML
1996 - Founded Future Solutions
1998 - Co-founded PeoplesForum.com, moved to California
2001-2003 - Chairman, Nevada County Libertarian Party
2002 - Co-founded Nevada County Bill of Rights Defense Committee
I wrote to him to clear it up. Can't be having myself associated with either of the Two Parties. No thanks.
I've had a long-standing resolution to not put bumper stickers on my car. Not for the normal reasons-- I'm not worried about defacing my bumper, nor am I afraid to take a stance via that media, and I don't think bumper stickers are silly. The reason I've resisted is that I think once I open the gates, I won't be able to stop the flood. There are so many slogans and statements that I would like to make, if I were so inclined, that my car could quickly become a screaming radical.
Nevertheless, I've decided to take the plunge. My friend Edie just gave me a new bumpersticker, and it's just too sweet to resist. It says "Has anyone seen my constitutional rights?"
The floodgates open tomorrow, as I put on my first bumper sticker in years. (The last one was a "Lance Brown for President" one on my old Ford Van, may it rest in peace.)
I feel I should add a little more info to help with perspective on the fact that only 40 or so people came to the funeral for the Bill of Rights. Of course there's the weather issue, which I mentioned. There's also the fact that just a week before the event took place, it was just an idea in my mind. All the preparations took place in that span of time. A little note from the activist handbook-- if you're planning a major community-wide event, give yourself more than a week to prepare. I knew this, but these were extenuating circumstances. The main factor was that I hadn't thought I would even be living here anymore by this time. I've been going through an eviction saga for the past many months, and have been conducting my local affairs with a short-term mindset. All this Bill of Rights defense stuff came about because this guy got in touch with me and asked to meet and talk about it. Then he told me about how all these communities around the country have been passing resolutions supporting civil liberties and opposing the USA-PATRIOT Act, and it got me fired up. That was about a month and a half ago now, and a lot has transpired from it, not the least of which was this funeral.
Anyway, the main factor I wanted to make clear is how small the population is out here, which is the biggest reason why the relatively low numbers at the funeral were actually a pretty good turnout. My whole county has under 100,000 people in it. The town where the funeral was held is population 3,001. The bulk of the county's population lives either in Truckee, which is a city on the east end of the county, pretty far (and disconnected) from here, or in various ultra-rural unincorporated areas. I'm part of the latter group...my address is technically Nevada City, but I'm way outside the city limits.
So my point is that it's hard to get a large number of people to any event here, unless it's some sort of artistic perormance. Most people do their politics in meetings and the letters to the editor page, not in the streets. That's probably true in most places, but here the law of numbers has a big impact. There haven't been too many demonstrations here with more than 50 people that i can remember. The last big one I remember was when a bunch of high schoolers walked out of school to protest something (I can't recall what just now -- it was a few years ago, shortly after I moved here. I think maybe it was drug testing). I haven't seen a lot of the peace vigils they've been having here lately, but I saw one and it was about 20 people. So that's kind of how it is around here.
The deal with media is basically the same, unfortunately. That news show I was on a while back is the only local TV news. The other "local" news stations are in Sacramento, an hour and a half away. I probably could have gotten one or two of them up here, but the time factor hurt me there, big time. That's definitely my biggest disappointment from the funeral for the Bill of Rights. No major media. We did have a broadcaster from KVMR show up, and she taped some of the ceremony, and played it over the air this morning at the beginning of my my interview with her.
I didn't want to get too into talking about all the details of this past week tonight. I'm still behind on sleep, and today was a rough day -- another weather-related power outage day. Extra pains in the butt related to that ate up a lot of my day.
I'll be talking a lot more about the funeral...I want to compile a lot of notes, to help inspire others to hold them in their communitites. I think it's a really compelling and effective activist event. I'm going to put a couple more thoughts about that in a separate post in a minute actually.
Lance Brown for President - Year 2008
14204 Owl Creek Rd.
Nevada City, CA 95959
(Disregard the date of this entry. This contact information is current.)