WolfesBlogArchives: May 2004

Monday, May 31, 2004

SO IS THE GUN THAT GWB KEEPS IN HIS WASHINGTON, D.C. OFFICE LEGAL? And if not, why hasn't a SWAT team kicked down his door at midnight? (Okay, I know, he's on federal property, not in local D.C. jurisdiction where sidearms are banned. But what a hypocrite. He lets folks in the neighborhood get busted -- even encourages cops to bust them via his Project Safe Neighborhoods -- for doing exactly what he does himself. And that doesn't tweak his conscience even a tiny bit?)

Posted by Claire @ 08:22 PM CST [Link]

K. WRITES TO REMIND ME THAT ERNIE HANCOCK'S RADIO SHOW in Phoenix got yanked off the air last week. I knew. I just didn't want to think about it. Ernie is one of the most enthusiastic, funny, principled, hard-working libertarians you could ever imagine and he deserves the best. Good show he had, too.

Unrelated to the show, Ernie sent this message to his mailing list this morning:

I'm going to get some sleep first then later I'll write up the story of the 2004 Libertarian National Convention.

Bottom Line:

Awesome!!!

It was the most principled, fun, exciting, Old School libertarian convention I've been to. Nothing's perfect, but we hard core no compromisers were grinning ear to ear the whole time watching The Party of Principle setting itself up for a great 2004 Election cycle.

The more reports come in, the better that convention and its outcome sound. The LP hasn't truly combined excitement and hardcore freedom principles since sometime in the 1980s. I'm dying to hear what created the turnaround -- just when freedom needs it the most. Ernie, tell us!

Posted by Claire @ 01:26 PM CST [Link]

DAMN THAT THIS STUFF KEEPS SNEAKING UP ON US. PH sends word that illuminated road dots -- you know, those little "cats eyes" along the lane dividers that help guide you through dark, foggy, or rainy road conditions -- are are now being made with high-res digital cameras in them. Not only that, but these spy dots have already been in use for three years. Their maker says these "intelligent road studs" are capable of catching speeders, catching "criminals and terrorists," and even reporting to the cops if you have bald tires.

They seem to have some valid and promising safety uses. But along with control systems like this one reported by Unstructuredreality today on TCF, their adoption bodes ill for those who still believe in our quaint old right to travel.

Posted by Claire @ 10:14 AM CST [Link]

ONE WALL OF CABIN SWEET CABIN is currently wallpapered with 3 x 5 cards and Post-It notes. Magenta cards for death scenes. Orange cards for other highly emotional encounters. Green cards for less impactful scenes that nevertheless carry critical plot turns. White cards for quieter plot or character developments. And Post-Its, Post-Its, Post-Its to tell me "do this better" or "make that clear" or "be sure this character has a distinctive speech pattern." And I sit by the hour and stare in Deep Thought, reaching out now and then to apply a new sticky note.

I'm writing a film script. My first real, Hollywood-style drama.

I've written plenty of scripts before. For radio spots. Industrial videos. And of course for the documentary Innocents Betrayed. But never have I sent fictional characters wandering through movie scenes. Lots of interesting new challenges here. Just learning to use the proper script formatting took a few days. (The rules for spec film scripts are almost bureaucratic in their intricacy -- although they make more sense than anything a government would come up with.)

The characters aren't my own. I'm adapting a novel in partnership with its creator. I write. He consults. Aside from the characters and the basic premise, the film will be totally different than what you may have read in the book. Characters will do more and talk less. They'll feel more and react more. Each change we make dictates other changes, so that by a ripple effect the story gradually becomes something entirely different than it was.

Getting this script sold will be a long shot. Then it's another long shot from sale to production. I'd guess we have maybe -- maybe a one-in-100 chance of ever seeing this thing in a theater. And that's probably wild optimism talking. Still, it's an exciting process. And I hope, a good story.

For the next couple of months as I work on this, I won't be keeping up much e-mail correspondence or doing much posting over at The Claire Files forums. Will still blog away, though. When I'm not staring at the wallpaper.

Posted by Claire @ 09:57 AM CST [Link]

IT TOOK SOME DIGGING TO LEARN THAT MICHAEL BADNARIK is the 2004 LP candidate for president. Although NPR covered the convention at its opening none of my favorite news sources mentioned the results today, even down deep in their political sections. (I even checked WorldNetDaily.com, which I rarely do any more; that site has become such a pathetic "patriotic" propagandistic paranoid parody of what it used to be.)

I just shoulda checked The Claire Files forums, where mantispid issued the first report straight from the convention. And I know CSPAN also covered the convention. Good old CSPAN.

Badnarik. Wow, that was a surprise. For once the guy with the purest heart and the most radical libertarian view triumphed in an LP convention. This is a guy who -- Bruthah! -- ditched his SSN and declared himself free.

If I'd have been at the convention casting a vote (which thank heaven I wasn't) I'd have had a hard time deciding between him and Aaron Russo. Going in, I'd have leaned Russo, just because he's a man who knows how to make noise -- and noise is needed in this year when the LP can give anti-war, anti-big-spending folks their only real choice. Wouldn't it be cool if the Libertarian decided the race between the two opportunistic (as in "opportunistic infection") warmongers, rights-haters, and welfare staters the Rs and Ds are going to try to sell us? But whether or not that happens, it's great that Badnarik came from behind like that. What a story! What an American. Everyone who meets him is very impressed.

Damn near makes me wish I'd remained political.

Posted by Claire @ 09:03 AM CST [Link]

Saturday, May 29, 2004

GunControl0504 (459k image)RICK SENT THIS WITH THE COMMENT "This guy really needs some 'gun control.'" The store clerk seems to have his "gun control" down just fine, though. Quick wits, too.

Posted by Claire @ 12:33 PM CST [Link]

Friday, May 28, 2004

WORLD-WANDERING WARRIOR DAVE DAVIS IS OUT OF ISRAEL. He has these observations on the place and says he would never go back.

Posted by Claire @ 12:11 PM CST [Link]

ONE IN 75 AMERICAN MEN IS IN JAIL OR PRISON. This from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Free-Market.net.

America's inmate population grew by 2.9 percent last year, to almost 2.1 million people, with one of every 75 men living in prison or jail. The inmate population continued its rise despite a fall in the crime rate and many states' efforts to reduce some sentences ...

One in every 75. Man, just think about that for a minute. Land of the free. One in every 75 in prison. And how many of those for victimless crimes?

Posted by Claire @ 11:30 AM CST [Link]

IT APPEARS THE STORY OF RUMSFELD BANNING CAMERAS at Abu Ghraib is probably untrue -- for the moment. And -- oops! -- might be another case where somebody mistook satire for reality.

But as this above-linked article points out, blanket camera bans in businesses and public places are becoming more common, and Rumsfeld may eventually feel compelled to make reality imitate satire. (Here's further confirmation that more camera-control is on the way.)

Back in the pet peeve department, I can't help noticing time and again, that the more businesses and government agencies insist on photographing, taping, and databasing us, the more insistent they are that we not do the same to them. This is one more of the many reasons why David Brin's whole Transparent Society" concept is hopelessly naive. Aside from the fact that it would be hell on earth to live on an entire globe full of village busybodies, mega-surveillance will never be applied equally.

The whole point of surveillance is "us against them." The whole point is for the powerful to control the less powerful -- under the assumption that "the little people" are all potential criminals. Corporations and governments don't want us picking up digital cameras for the same reason Medieval lords didn't want peasants picking up pitchforks.

On the day that every government VIP and corporate manager says, "Okay, we love surveillance, so surveill us first! Bring your cameras into our offices! Check my personal credit records! Investigate without limit everything my agency ever does! Let the public decide whether or not I should be allowed to board an airplane!" I'll believe there's some more benign motive. But as long as they want to do it to us while keeping us from doing it to them, then no way.

Posted by Claire @ 09:19 AM CST [Link]

Blog_FrenchLabel (46k image)IF IT'S FAKE, DON'T TELL ME. Atek3 sends around this pic of a label from a laptop computer bag, manufactured in the U.S. and exported to Europe. The label says:

Wash with warm water.
Use mild soap.
Dry flat.
Do not use bleach.
Do not dry in the dryer.
Do not iron.
We are sorry that our President is an idiot.
We did not vote for him.

NOTE: Whoohoo! Brig (Howdy, Stranger!) writes to say it's not only true but that the label doubled the company's sales. And here's the company, Tom Bihn Bags in case you want to buy or browse. The bags are exported. But you can also buy them stateside. Bihn has created a t-shirt with the label; proceeds from sales of the shirt will be donated to the Seattle Vet Center to be used for its homeless veteran program. Bihn claims -- although perhaps not entirely with a straight face -- that the president referred to is not George Bush, but Tom Bihn himself.

Posted by Claire @ 08:51 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, May 27, 2004

THE ATF SCREWS YET ANOTHER INNOCENT. The Militant Libertarian has some choice words on the subject.

Posted by Claire @ 01:22 PM CST [Link]

EEEW. CALIFORNIANS. Start getting those gummi faux thumbprints ready. Debra, Las Vegas is altogether too close to that weird state.

Posted by Claire @ 01:05 PM CST [Link]

MORE ON LAST WEEK'S BUREAUCRASH IN GENEVA. Perry de Havilland posted pix of the crash at Samizdata. And there's now a picture of our own Crasher Ian accompanying his report on the Bureaucrash site (same report posted at Wolfesblog earlier this week). I did a doubletake when I saw that shot of Ian. Last time I saw him in real life he had gorgeous hair half way to his waist. Ian, how you've changed.

Posted by Claire @ 01:02 PM CST [Link]

FOR THOSE WHO DISLIKE PAYPAL for its nannying attitude toward customers and its laundry list of goods (including guns) you can't buy with it, there's an alternative in the works. It'll be open source and "will not be telling grownups what they can and cannot spend their own money on."

This news (behind the "more" link) comes from Central America and from Sandy Sandfort, freedom-loving author of Panama in a Nutshell. [more]

Posted by Claire @ 10:33 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

PET PEEVE TIME: SPORT STADIUM NAMES. I just heard another report about some corporate sponsor buying the "naming rights" to a sports stadium or a famous sporting event. I don't recall whether it was the Poli-Grip Denture Adhesive Hockey Arena or SafeCo Insurance NASCAR Classic. Or whatever. But this selling of names to the highest bidder is silly.

I mean, it was fine when the Wrigley people built themselves a ballpark way back when and named it Wrigley Field. But if you're going to name a stadium after the people who put up the most money, then every darned one of them ought to be called Taxpayer Field, The Working Drone's Dome, The People's Downs, Anybody's Arena, or Turn-Your-Pockets-Out Track. Because you know who really foots the bill. Fair's fair, if he who pays gets the name.

Okay, okay. I know I'm not going to win this battle while soft-drink makers and bankers are dishing out $150 million at a pop to get their name over the door. But if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? Instead of letting corporations or rich folks buy their way only onto sports stadiums and sporting events, let's take this trend to its logical conclusion.

Herewith are my first, top-of-the-head suggestions for selling naming rights to federal government buildings:

I'm sure you can think of many more. I couldn't for the life of me think who should get their name on CIA headquarters or the White House. But I'll bet one of you wits will.

Posted by Claire @ 08:11 PM CST [Link]

THE PROSECUTOR HAS FILED FOR A CONTINUANCE IN HUNTER'S CASE.

Posted by Claire @ 11:08 AM CST [Link]

IDENTITY AND MAGICAL THINKING. The news brings constant reminders of the push toward identity control. You don't have to look far to hear the latest about CAPPS II (which in this case, some valiant Alaskans are fighting) or ID checks for train passengers.

This ID obsession goes on despite ample and continuous evidence that it's either totally useless or seriously flawed. How many people have pointed out that most of the 9-11 terrorists would have easily passed CAPPS scrutiny? But the reality makes no difference.

We already know that facial-recognition systems -- touted as impossible to fool when they were introduced -- have absurd error levels and have never once caught a serious criminal. But that doesn't stop a major urban school district from from subjecting every visitor to facial surveillance, in hopes that some innocent looking mom or dad will turn out to be a pedophile or kidnapper.

The FBI still flubs up with fingerprint recognition -- a system we've been assured for more than a 100 years is infallible. Even while publicly hurting an innocent man in a big way, the FBI puffed up its chest and claimed that its mis-identified fingerprint was "an absolutely incontrovertable match."

Well, "mistakes are made," as our Beloved Leaders say. No system is perfect. But the extreme faith being put into ID and ID technology is something else. It smacks of magical thinking.

Magical thinking is a form of superstition in which you believe you can protect yourself from X by doing Y -- even when there's no relationship between the two. Or you think you can achieve B by doing A.

Magical thinking is a desperate attempt to control what we inherently can't control. To make ourselves feel better in the face of fear. To give ourselves power when we're powerless.

This obsession with ID is right up there. Take CAPPS II, for instance. Its major aim is to verify that the name you're traveling under is your "real" name. Okey dokey. Well, some of us haven't traveled under our "real" names in decades. And we haven't [more]

Posted by Claire @ 09:48 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

SOMETHING SPECIAL TODAY. Blogispondent Ian McCollum has just returned from Switzerland, where he took part in Bureaucrash's Operation Capitalism Heals. Whoda thunk international subversion could be so fun?

Now, I get out of the way and give you Ian. The rest of this entry is all his, not a word altered:

After-action Report: Operation Capitalism Heals (Geneva)

By Ian McCollum

(cue James Bond theme...)

It was a dark and stormy night when our twenty highly-trained international Bureaucrash activists covertly parachuted into Geneva, Switzerland...

Well, ok, maybe it was a nice sunny Wednesday morning, and maybe we just flew into Geneva's international airport on SwissAir jetliners. But either way, it was the start of a great day of political activism. After meeting up with the whole team (which included Crashers from a half dozen different nations) and getting a briefing on the planned activities, we proceded to Crash in on World Health Organization bureaucrats at the UN Palace of Nations.

Our goal there was to Crash a couple of WHO meetings, but we didn't quite get that far. Upon entering, we were told by security that we couldn't bring in the flyers we had planned to distribute. While we were talking to the guards, a couple of us headed downstairs to the building's cafeteria. The entranceway leading into it was lined with displays and tables of propaganda about the terrible global epidemic of tasty - I mean fattening - foods. You can imagine our surprise upon finding things like butter-and-cream sauces on the menus inside. Bureaucrats as hypocrites? Never!

After spending a few minutes handing out flyers in front of the building, we decided to move on to another building in the same complex, where we hoped to Crash another meeting. But this time, the security guards declared that our "Capitalism Heals" t-shirts conveyed a message, and thus couldn't be brought inside the building. So we contented ourselves with leaving a couple stacks of our flyers on the rack of UN/WHO health propaganda, and (pausing to snap a couple photos of health-o-crats smoking outside the WHO building) headed off to the next target event. I should add that we didn't really just "head off" - we were actually honored with the distinction of being escorted out of the UN compound by a couple of guards. Flattering. :)

The final Crash of the day was at an auditorium on the other side of the city, where desperate health-o-crat German Velasquez was screening a documentary film called "Profits or Life?", about his attacks on pharmaceutical patents. During the film (which should have been subtitled "A study in false dichotomy") we distributed flyers pointing out the numerous idiocies in the film's arguments. This flustered the organizers a bit...and they got really unhappy when they found their discussion session Crashed by tough questions. Unsurprisingly, the panel members refused to answer most of our questions (including ones like why, when they claimed to be acting for the good of Africa, they had no Africans on their panel). Nor could they explain things like why capitalistic charity groups have proven so much more effective than lumbering, tax-funded UN bureaucracies. Circulating among the attendees afterwards, we found that we had gotten many of the attendees thinking seriously about the issue, and many expressed support for our ideas.

By the time we left the auditorium, it was well after sunset, and we drifted into Geneva for some food and sleep.

The next day, we decided to head back the UN Palace of Nations. Having already been kicked out of the compound by UN cops the day before, we set ourselves up just outside the gates at the main entrance, where all the traffic in and out got a good view of us. We brought along a bunch of protest posters, sporting sayings including "Culinary Communists," "Keep Your Laws Off My Belly," "Wealthier is Healthier," "Capitalism Heals, Socialism Kills," and "Fight Government Obesity." Of course, the control fanatics inside couldn't stand being opposed by a bunch of Crashers, so (since their own cops had no jurisdiction where we were) they called the Geneva police on us. They arrived in three or four cars and brought along a paddy wagon, but after checking our IDs and copying down our poster slogans they piled back in their cars and drove off. They did leave two officers and the paddy wagon as a not-too-subtle warning, though. The responses we got from passing individuals were mostly thumbs up, and from official-looking vehicles full of 'crats were mostly thumbs down (surprise surprise, huh?)

In the overall scope of things, our protests were fairly small, but I think we really rattled a lot of UN kleptocrats. They really don't expect anyone, particularly young people, to show up in person to denounce their socialism as the killer system it is. Better yet, we got some people thinking about whether they really want a blundering bureaucracy controlling so much of their lives.

A few other points of interest I noted along the way:

When I checked my baggage for the flight out of the US, it was first scanned and inspected by "Freedom Air Services." Urg.

SwissAir actually provided us with metal forks and knives in our meals. Amazingly, nobody tried to hijack the flight with one of them.

For you Firefly fans out there, it is interesting to note that most of the US customs and security personnel I saw were wearing bright blue latex gloves. Two by two...hands of blue...

Posted by Claire @ 12:13 PM CST [Link]

Monday, May 24, 2004

JUST IN FROM JEFF "HUNTER" JORDAN: (Via Carl Bussjaeger)

"I just got a call from my lawyer, and they are moving my appearance to Wednesday at 3 PM at the Municipal court."

The Municipal Court only handles misdemeanors, so apparently the felony charge is dropped or bargained down.

On the other hand, abruptly shifting the date forward at the last minute looks like a blatant attempt to short circuit the travel plans of those supporters of Mr. Jordan who had arranged time off work for the Thursday trial. I'd say that Mr. DeSanto is extremely worried about publicity.

Maybe he's afraid someone will ask publicly why the authorities have kept Mr. Jordan's property which had nothing to do with the charge: a limited edition collector's item, and nice laptop computer...

Hunter's trial is this week in Ashland, Ohio.

Posted by Claire @ 06:47 PM CST [Link]

SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE SENT COPIES of this article this morning that I'm finally yielding to their belief that it's important. Hm. So fed-up Christians want to negotiate a secession with the fedgov so they can have a whole state (South Carolina) to run as a theocracy? I can understand them being mad about some -- heck, a lot of -- recent social & legal developments. But they're mad in the other sense of the word if they imagine the D.C.-crats will allow them to secede from the union. Er ... didn't SC already try that 150 years or so ago, when the fedgov was a little less big, less mean, and less dependent on tax revenues from the states? Didn't work out quite so well, as I recall.

It is interesting, though, that so many people are getting the separatist, secessionist idea all at once. Small though the numbers may be, the frustration driving them is palpable. I wonder if Bush and Company -- or for that matter Clinton, McCain, Lott, Kennedy and Company -- understand the message American mine canaries are sending them? That "the system" is broken beyond all fixing.

Posted by Claire @ 12:48 PM CST [Link]

THE ROCKET SCIENTIST ASKS: WHERE'S THE MONEY FOR THE FREEDOM CAUSE?

Here's the question of the hour:

Why is it that our side is so horribly underfunded? The bad guys have gazillions. And big guys too....like Soros, McKelvey, Gates....guys with gigabucks oozing from every pore. and these socialist pricks are actively trying to take all our guns away. Are there no wealthy free market capitalists out there? Why is it that our side has no money?

Is there something that I am missing about loving freedom? Is there something intrinsically financially debilitating about liberty?

Or is it that once you get to be a gazillionaire that you have become so steeped in the state that you cannot let it go?

Or if you start to provide significant amounts of help to the good guys do you get a visit from the alphabet soup gangs?

Been wondering about that, myself. Michael Moore can get millions in funding for his anti-gun screeds. All it takes is a few phone calls. But Innocents Betrayed has to be financed on a wing and a prayer, in donations of $25 or $100 dollars. When we got a few donations of $1,000 or $5,000 toward the production, we recognized those donations as a significant sacrifice on the part of the givers. For instance, a couple of regional gun-rights groups raised money from their members, and KeepAndBearArms.com gave their $1,000 quite heroically at a time when they themselves were struggling to raise dribs and drabs of money for the Silveira v Lockyer lawsuit.

Trying to think of wealthy freedom lovers who fund various causes, I come up with just three names -- and each of those men founded or funds not activist groups, but a think tank. Well, we need think tanks, too. But the immediate need for freedom is desperate. Where are the entrepreneurial freedom-loving gazillionaires who can support no-compromise efforts to save self-defense rights or the Fourth Amendment?

Even the conservatives have their angels -- the Millikan textile folks kept the John Birch Society alive for decades, the Coors family rose to conservative causes. But us ... Nobody.

My personal theory is that to get rich one must already be a compromiser, politically. You might have an uncompromising vision for your product or company, but to get things done in the real world, you learn to play the political game. So from the get-go, you're not oriented toward radical individualist positions. Or if you are, as the Rocket Scientist implies, you don't dare pursue them because it's too important to keep government as your friend. OTOH, if you're born rich, you most likely already envision yourself as a natural elite, and you don't give a rat's patoot about the scruffy peasants who want their AK-47s or who don't want cops and bureaucrats poking into their records. All you care about is your engraved European shotguns and hiding your own financial doings behind a dozen expensive layers of privacy.

Sad. It makes me ever more grateful for the few, like the Rocket Scientist, who put their money where their mouths are, even when they don't really have all that much. You guys -- and you know why you are -- are quiet heroes.

Posted by Claire @ 09:38 AM CST [Link]

WELL, NATURALLY. OF COURSE. They ban the cameras.

And get yourself a bigger army, say both Mrs. Left and Mr. Conservative. Yeah, that's the problem -- having only enough soldiers to deploy in 100 countries. (The d-word is never mentioned in this article.)

Posted by Claire @ 08:30 AM CST [Link]

Friday, May 21, 2004

IRAQ TORTURE. It just gets worse. And worse. It's hard to bear the pain and horror of the detainees. I want to grab these grinning U.S. soldiers by the shoulders, shake them, and shout in their faces, "Don't you understand that America's whole purpose is to be better than this???"

Posted by Claire @ 08:41 AM CST [Link]

WITH SO MUCH BAD NEWS, IT'S A RELIEF TO READ this warm little story about how Oregon police actually helped a self-reliantly homeless (and homeschooling) father and daughter. SJ found this reminder of how very different the usual story can turn out when someone in government remembers that individuals are ... individuals. And cares.

Posted by Claire @ 08:12 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, May 20, 2004

SO SOME FEMINISTS THINK IT'S OPPRESSIVE THAT MEN STAND TO PEE? DullHawk sends the solution: Let us equality-seeking babes join them! Here's "A Woman's Guide on How to Pee Standing Up." No kidding. Girls, should we be so motivated we can liberate ourselves from all that allegedly submissive squatting either with or without the "assistive device" also marketed by these folks.

Seriously now, there are actual advantages to this -- for instance while hiking in the backcountry or when facing a less-than-savory toilet seat in a very public restroom. But ... er, I think I'll zip up on this subject for now.

Posted by Claire @ 09:33 AM CST [Link]

DIDTHEYREADIT.COM. A new "service" allows senders to track their e-mails right into your home. Pat (thank you for making my day, girl) send a USA Today article that says:

DidTheyReadIt.com, which will launch Monday, allows anyone to secretly track e-mails they send. You'll see whether someone opens your e-mail, how long the recipient keeps it open even where geographically the recipient is reading it. ...

In most cases, the site will be able to tell you the city where the e-mail was read though not the specific address. It can also tell you if the recipient forwarded the e-mail (though not to whom it was sent), and whether it was read by the people to whom it was forwarded.

The part about "where it's read, geographically" is the really big kicker. No matter what excuses you could make to legitimize the rest of the process, that's simply snooping for snooping's sake. It's just another of those "because we can" acts of surveillance that have become so common lately.

According to the "service's" own Web site, subscribers are notified automatically. Each time the message is re-opened, either by the original recipient or by anyone it's forwarded to, the DidTheyReadIt.com subscriber is notified again. All this is supposedly invisible to the recipients.

All is not bleak, though. We can still get a laugh, even out of this. In DidTheyReadIt.com's FAQ, this question appears: "Does DidTheyReadIt contain any spyware?"

The answer is, "No. We respect the privacy of our users."

Uh huh.

-----

NOTE: A good discussion about how this snooping is done and how to foil it is currently underway on this thread at The Claire Files forums. I tell you, those folks there ... they are the best.

Brad Rodriguez also figured out very quickly how to foil these snoops. They're just using an old spammer's trick, and people who follow elementary e-mail precautions should be able to evade it.

Interesting that DidTheyReadIt.com makes this broad claim of being able to track anybody's mail reading, when in fact it appears they can mainly track the mail habits of careless people.

Posted by Claire @ 09:14 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

LIFE WITH YOUR SUBDERMAL IMPLANT, CA. 2008. Oh yeah, Jack Duggan, you tell 'em! It might take until 2012 or 2022 in the real world, but you've just seen our future.

Posted by Claire @ 08:49 PM CST [Link]

SWEETIE PIE THE RESCUE DOBIE IS IN HEAT. And things are gettin' HOT around my house.

Sweetie Pie is the old girl we picked up off the streets a few months ago who had obviously been a misused breeder. She can't be spayed because of a heart condition (anesthetic might kill her) and she's probably only a few months away from dying of breast cancer anyway. So there she is. For the last week she's been in the blood-dribbling stage, which is really sort of a pre-heat. Just within the last few hours she's entered the stage of being ready to accept a male. I know because my male -- who has no equipment for doing anything useful about the situation -- has suddenly started following Sweetie Pie around the cabin, whimpering, sniffing, licking, displaying even more than his usual insane possessiveness, and ceaselessly attempting to mount.

It's ridiculous because, even if he had what it takes, he'd have to climb on a stepladder to reach the top of those long dobie legs. Robbie is a good-sized dog, but he's stumpy and bull-doggish, and very little of what he's got is in his little legs. But he's ready. And she's ready. And every time he walks up to her, she lifts her little stub of a tail as if to get it out of the way and says, "Let's get it on, baby!"

But poor Rob can't get her and she eventually gets tired of his useless attempts and walks away. He follows her with a look that defines "hangdog." These two characters, who can usually scarcely stand the sight of each other, are sitting face to face right now, positively cooing. Well, she's cooing. Robbie, if he were a teenage boy, would no doubt be guilt-tripping her about how she'd do it if she really loved him, or how he'll get blue balls if she remains so "frigid." Or maybe he'd try the line about how "all the other girls do it." Little does he understand how much she wants to.

And I'm sitting here laughing my head off and being glad that humans are just a little, teeny bit more complex than these guys -- that we're able to hide our hormone-driven behaviors under at least a slight veneer of sophistication.

The vet tells me this stage of Sweetie Pie's heat might go on for a week or so, after which she's likely to have a false pregnancy, then start nursing stuffed toys. She might even produce milk.

I'm beginning to understand one more of the many reasons why we animal rescue types are so big on spays. But I'm really beginning to wonder if Robbie's neuter took. Or if he'll figure out where I keep the stepladder.

I tell you, those would be funny-looking pups.

Posted by Claire @ 08:34 PM CST [Link]

WOW. Mostly_Harmless posted this creepy article at The Claire Files forums. It deserves a wider -- in fact, the widest possible -- exposure.

The article is horrifying on many counts. But especially note the presence of a "military liaison" at this large government school (possibly a result of the "No Child Left Behind" Act, which dictates a cozy school-military connection) and the role that person plays.

Posted by Claire @ 02:17 PM CST [Link]

HEY, GUYS. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE A FEMALE TALKING TOILET? Sounds grossly kinky, no? No. In this case it would be more like having the mother from hell watch you pee. Here's the story in full from Reuters:

Talking toilet orders German men to sit down
Tue 18 May, 2004 16:55

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German inventor who developed a gadget that berates men if they try to use the toilet standing up has sold more than 1.6 million devices, his business manager says.

German women fed up with a man with a poor aim can turn to the ghost-shaped gadget, which lurks under the toilet rim and, if the seat is lifted, declares in a stern female tone:

"Hello, what are you up to then? Put the seat back down right away, you are definitely not to pee standing up ... you will make a right mess..."

Alex Benkhardt, 46, invented the "WC Ghost" and its creators are in negotiations to market it in Britain, Canada and Italy.

Sympathatic though I might be to harried hausfraus who already have enough cleaning to do, this whole business of trying to get men to sit to pee has a lot more to do with feminism gone amuck than with keeping a ty-de-bowl. (In fact, when I tried to Google for a good supporting link about feminists, men, and toilets, I instead found myself slogging through pages and pages of dominatrix porn. Hm. That tells ya something...) Some women want men to sit down because standing up to urinate signals oppression of women. (Ah, finally, there's that link I was looking for.)

On a related topic, I'm reading a book called Killing Monsters: Why Children NEED Fantasy, Superheroes, and Make-Believe Violence. While this book applies to both boys and girls, it (finally!) brings some common sense to this ridiculous climate in which tots are suspended from school for possessing itty bitty GI Joe guns and Investigated by the feds for graphic drawings.

Author Gerard Jones points out that even the goriest of play violence is usually a healthy way for kids to come to grips with the challenges of life, especially the frustrating reality of being small and helpless in a world of powerful giants. And -- as a lot of folks have suspected -- suppressing kids' natural expressions of fantasy violence can actually result in more real violence later from teenagers who've never learned to deal with their perfectly natural feelings.

Both the European tempest in a pee pot and the idiotic "zero tolerance" for play violence are aspects of the attempt to feminize men and boys. There have been plenty of times I wished a boyfriend was more like a girlfriend -- somebody to share intimate talk with, or somebody to do an art-gallery crawl with, perhaps. But it usually isn't meant to be. We are different. And vive la difference! Attempts to change the very nature of boys and men simply render both the confused males and the hyper-controlling females utterly grotesque.

Posted by Claire @ 01:59 PM CST [Link]

DUNCAN FRISSELL SUGGESTS ARGUMENTS TO MAKE TO BUREAUCRATS when their demands for invasive info stand between you and getting some document you absolutely must have. Duncan, a lawyer, always thinks of good stuff.

Posted by Claire @ 01:23 PM CST [Link]

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

WANNA SEE THE COVER FOR THE NEW BOOK? click here to open the jpeg in a pop-up window. And whaddaya know ... there are those mysterious little characters again.

The other day, I referred to the artist, Bob Crabb, as a "1960s underground comix artist." I was wrong about the 1960s part. He tells my editor he didn't start until 1979. But he's the creator of "It Takes a Village Idiot." And he has turned up in one of Hunter Thompson's books, which (as he points out) verifies his underground credentials.

I haven't seen the original, but Beloved Editor says the colors on it are much better than what you'll see here.

Posted by Claire @ 02:22 PM CST [Link]

KAREN DE COSTER AND I ARE HAVIN' A GUNFIGHT! It's the shootout at the OK Blog.

Karen, I like being able to be safe and secure, too. You betcha. I just can't figure out how we'll ever get free if we all go on cooperating with petty (or unpetty) tyrants. How do we win if we always agree to play by the other, bigger, guy's rules?

Posted by Claire @ 11:56 AM CST [Link]

Monday, May 17, 2004

"GETTING NAKED FOR BIG BROTHER." Why Americans seem not to care about privacy and may actually even prefer more invasive technologies. Heck of an interview with Jeffrey Rosen, who's just written a new book on the subject.

Privacy-enhancing technologies are complicated, hard to explain and may protect values that people don't care all that much about protecting. It's like the students of mine who, given the choice between [an airport imaging machine that reveals their sex organs or one that fuzzes out sexual details] prefer the naked machine because it makes them feel safer, even when it's explained to them that it's not. People are very afraid, and they want the promise of silver bullets. Often the complicated design choices that good technologies require make them less emotionally compelling.

Posted by Claire @ 03:53 PM CST [Link]

Saturday, May 15, 2004

AND THE WINNAH IS ....

On April Fools Day I announced a competition: A copy of my new book to the person who gives the best answer to the question "What is the greatest service that the IRS provides me?" Entries would be judged on "wit, irony, charm, and other factors as well as on any actual truthfulness that your answer might contain."

The entries (found in a special thread at The Claire Files forums) were darned good. I enjoyed crusty Jack Boone pointing out that how the IRS "services" us in the old-fashioned sense. Groaned at MidwestAnnie's tale of how the IRS punished her daughter for scholarly achievement. Agreed with the many variations on the theme of "the IRS helps create rebels and Outlaws." Laughed at some entries and shook my head over others. I even had to agree with Moorlock's comment that one genuine service the IRS performs is to put laws, regulations, and forms online.

But the winnah is ....

No, wait a minute ... the winnahs ARE ... because I absolutely could not decide between the two ... and because wit, irony, charm, and mysteriously subjective "other factors" (not including bribes or flattery) influenced the judging ... THE WINNAHS ARE ... [more]

Posted by Claire @ 08:35 PM CST [Link]

IS IT SOMETHING IN THE AIR OR IN THE WATER? I've been having strange dreams lately. This morning I dreamed that Congress had passed the Patronizing Act. They got tired of messing around and simply passed one big law to tell everybody in the country every single thing we're compelled to do and every single thing we're forbidden to do. They left specific implementation up to the states, though, and I was in Las Vegas visiting Debra when Nevada published a cute, user-friendly little booklet listing all the rules. "You must wear rubber boots when it rains," one rule said. "No practicing the profession of psychiatry before 8:30 a.m.," said another.

I railed, "Well, what about practicing psychiatry like really, really late after midnight? Like 7:30 a.m.?" But I railed in vain. The rules were the rules. I was horrified for all the usual reasons, but perhaps most of all because neither I nor anybody else had ever even heard of the Patronizing Act until the booklet hit the streets.

But ho hum, even the relatively rowdy citizens of Las Vegas accepted the rules without so much as a shrug. It was just the government doing what government always does.

I became desperate to get to my home state where I could learn what set of ghastly rules it had adopted. But I couldn't get out of Las Vegas because suddenly everybody in every business and public place -- even vet clinics and hair salons, not to mention the gas stations and ticket offices I needed -- had become totally, suckaciously, grouchy and unhelpful. They were all just like that bureaucratic gorgon I encountered in real life at city hall the other day. Mean for the sake of meanness. Supercilious, surly, and superior. Totally without interest in helping anyone or making anything work. Finding their only personal power in dis-empowering other individuals. Everyone was everyone else's petty enemy.

And weird dream or no, I suspect that's very much what society will be like once government controls everything.

Posted by Claire @ 11:15 AM CST [Link]

THE SECOND HARDYVILLE COLUMN ON GULCHING is up at Backwoods Home. Enjoy -- and maybe get some subversive ideas.

The one thing I forgot to add to the column (and will go real quick and ask Oliver, the BHM webmaster, to do) is a link to the gulching topic at The Claire Files forum. That's an even more important location than Hardyville for people interested in living free.

Posted by Claire @ 09:15 AM CST [Link]

Friday, May 14, 2004

AT LUNCHTIME TODAY I TOOK A BREAK FROM WRITING and cleaned out a couple of seldom-opened drawers. (Yes, that's what we do for fun out here in the great backwoods.) I was looking for metal.

Gold and silver haven't been in my budget the last few years, but the recent low prices and the constant admonishments of Silver, the biggest metals bug on The Claire Files forums, got me to thinking about precious metals again. I'd remembered having a handful of junk-silver coins in one of those drawers, and I was right.

I found something else I hadn't remembered. On March 27, nine years ago, I received some money at Bank of America. I know that because that's written in my own handwriting on the envelope I found crumpled under the silver. Among the bills they handed me that day were five -- five all in a row -- genuine $20 Federal Reserve Notes. You know the ones I mean. Instead of just bearing the terse message of today's FRNs ("This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.") all five of these beauties bore the once-upon-a-time message of genuine American dollars:

This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private, and is redeemable in lawful money at the United States Treasure, or at any Federal Reserve bank.

Now of course these still aren't as cool as the more legitimate forms of paper money that proceded them. Actually, by the time this type of note was issued, gold was already illegal. But the government still acknowledged that paper, all by itself, couldn't possibly be lawful money. Those old FRNs weren't money merely because some bureaucrat or banker decreed them to be -- like today's FRNs are.

Well, I guess I don't have to tell Wolfesblogians about the biggest bait-and-switch operation in all history. But

[more]

Posted by Claire @ 04:08 PM CST [Link]

BlogKerryBushad (19k image) FINALLY, SOMETHING INTERESTING COMES OUT OF THE CAMPAIGN. I still wouldn't take the side of either of these government-loving poseurs, but this is the first actually clever campaign ad I've seen in years & years. At first I thought it was a parody, but it appears to be the real thing. Nice way to get small donors to kick in.

Posted by Claire @ 11:58 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I TEND TO BE A PEACEABLE PERSON. But one way I've achieved peacefulness is by staying away from things and situations that might trigger my anger. One species of critter I avoid like poisonous vermin is the obnoxious Bureaucrattus Officialis. I've structured my life so I rarely have to deal with petty government bureaucrats. But today I had to go take care of an ordinary little matter I've been putting off for several years -- something most folk do about once a year or so, but that I've managed to avoid until now.

I thought I had all my ducks in a row, all my information structured so that I could breeze through this process with both minimal hassle and more importantly, minimal database invasion of my very private life. Then I got there and found that the state, in its infinite nosiness, had just adopted a new paperwork requirement. Do I need to mention that it's a highly invasive paperwork requirement?

No, I suppose not.

Each time I tried to explain to the clerk (who, in this small town is more than a clerk; she's a one-woman department) that my circumstances didn't fit the paperwork, that I had excellent reasons for not filling in that form, she just shrugged. Or pointed at a couple of check boxes and said, "Those are the only exceptions." "Those are the rules." "I don't make the rules." "The legislature didn't make any provision for that." "You have to do what the form says."

She pulled out every one of the old bureaucratisms except, "I'm only doing my job."

But she wasn't only doing her job. She was clearly, clearly enjoying her power to control other people and clearly amused to see me frustrated and taken aback. The fat stupid broad was smirking at me. And I remembered the years of my life when I wasn't even trying to live below the radar, when encounters with creatures like that were commonplace.

I'm a peaceful person. But I swear, for the first time in years I wanted to smash a person's f-----g face in. I walked out of that building thinking George Haydukian thoughts of payback. I won't smash. I won't seek revenge. Because to do either of those things simply lowers me to that woman's level.

But I swear, I do not know how so many of you deal with creatures like that one on a regular basis. In anything like a free society, she wouldn't be fit to get a job cleaning toilets in an inner-city park. And the control-freaks who decided the world needed that uselessly invasive piece of database entry wouldn't be fit to s--t in those toilets.

FWIW, I didn't fill in the state's little blanks. I'll have to think of a Plan C -- and frankly, it's wearying to have to continuously dodge every new act of petty tyranny cranked out by that perpetual-motion petty tyranny machine, the state. But I did appreciate the reminder of why I need to try even harder to be one of society's ghosts.

Posted by Claire @ 12:43 PM CST [Link]

VIN SUPRYNOWICZ IS WRITING A NOVEL! So notes Bill St Clair today -- complete with cover blurb and Scott Bieser artwork. Yee haw! Could it be, Vin, that all my long-ago pleading paid off?

Now, if George Potter would only write one ...

Posted by Claire @ 09:41 AM CST [Link]

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

A BANISHMENT RITUAL FOR GODS AND PRINCES. My friend sent this yesterday. He wrote it in the form of a memo. But it reads like a ritual incantation to banish the powers of darkness. With all the graphically horrible news this week, we need exactly that. "Begone, foul fiends of church and state ..."


[more]

Posted by Claire @ 04:37 PM CST [Link]

YOU'VE JUST GOT TO LAUGH AT THE WAY THE FATES OPERATE. Yesterday Free-Market.net linked to this news story about former San Bernardino County (CA) sheriff, Floyd Tidwell. Seems that Tidwell, who served as sheriff throughout the 1980s:

... took at least 523 guns from the department. ...

"Tidwell used to go through the property division periodically, as if shopping, to take his pick of weapons."

He took perfectly legal guns that should have been returned to their owners. He took full-auto weapons, illegal to possess without a Class III federal license. He sold 'em. He gave 'em away. He hoarded 'em. He used 'em in the sheriff's department. He wasn't fussy.

Happens that I have a felonious friend who misspent a lot of his youth in San Bernardino County. The county liked him so well that it invited him to stay in its guest facilities for extended periods. And its officers often stopped him on the streets for extended chats, a friendly little pat-down, and quick jaunts to their downtown hangouts.

When he heard the news, my friend exclaimed, "I know Tidwell! That rat-bastard. They don't mention all the drugs and jewelry he took, do they?"

Seems it was standard department practice -- known to all the local druggies, if not to the nice, respectable people in the district attorney's office -- for San Bernardino County deputies to stop people known to be petty criminals, strip them of their valuables, then let them go. Like, you know these people are not going to go down to the sheriff's office to demand their $100 bills, wristwatches, and dime bags back, right?

So now Tidwell is in trouble. Well, not exactly. Think for a moment about what state or fed officials would do to you if you stole more than 500 firearms, and kept machine guns without a license. Fifteen years in prison, maybe?

Well, silly you for not becoming a "public servant." Tidwell will serve no time in prison or jail, as long as he helps the government get the guns back. No word on whether any of the guns will ever be returned to their rightful owners.

Posted by Claire @ 11:55 AM CST [Link]

FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHTEOUS CAUSE. "Their side." "Our side." "Our side." "Our side."

(At the Claire Files forums, Silver has more impassioned things to say about that last item than I could manage right now. It was a vicious trick of both Stalin's and Hitler's to victimize innocent women as a means of punishing their men. Seem's we're learning a vast variety of things from those we like to say are our enemies.)

Posted by Claire @ 09:26 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

ONE MORE REASON TO OPPOSE THE CREEPING STALINISM of the U.S. Security State: It encourages people like this. Think of having her as your next-door neighbor. Or your nearest cubicle dweller at the office. Eeeeeew!

Posted by Claire @ 09:28 AM CST [Link]

I RECEIVED COVER ART FOR THE NEW BOOK YESTERDAY. Well, just the black-and-white line art, via fax. Don't know anything about the colors yet. But it's very cool. It was drawn by the 1960s underground comix artist Bob Crabb [NOTE 5/18/04: Actually Bob got started in 1979, I learned later. The 60s impression must have just been from all those drugs I took back then. Or was it all the drugs he took back then?). It features a scrumptously swashbuckling Outlaw (think Orlando Bloom in Pirates of the Caribbean crossed with Errol Flynn in anything). Publishers consider both book titles and book covers to be part of their marketing domain, and they sometimes don't even show them to the writers before publication, believe it or not. Oh, I'm sure Tom Clancy and Danielle Steele have some contractual arrangement about that, but sometimes us little folk have to wait in suspense to learn what our publishers did to us. Loompanics goes out of its way to be nice. (And even when they've changed my proposed titles, theirs have always been better.)

There's always a moment of shock seeing a new cover design: Oh no! That's not what I envisioned! But within minutes, the designs grow on me. The only one that ever bothered me even slightly was the cover for 101 Things, because it showed a pistol on a table pointing at the people in the illustration. I figured my gun friends would never let me live that down -- though in fact only one ever mentioned it. This new cover for The Freedom Outlaw's Handbook is a charmer. I'll run off to the woods and join that Outlaw's band of Merry Persons any time.

Posted by Claire @ 08:51 AM CST [Link]

Monday, May 10, 2004

THE CROP BUSH AND FRIENDS ARE SOWING. Never seen a truer cartoon.

(Tks, SJ!)

Posted by Claire @ 08:55 AM CST [Link]

NOT NAZI GERMANY.

"Arresting authorities entered houses usually after dark, breaking down doors, waking up residents roughly, yelling orders, forcing family members into one room under military guard while searching the rest of the house and further breaking doors, cabinets and other property," the report said.

"Sometimes they arrested all adult males present in a house, including elderly, handicapped or sick people," it said.

"Treatment often included pushing people around, insulting, taking aim with rifles, punching and kicking and striking with rifles."

It said some coalition military intelligence officers estimated "between 70 percent and 90 percent of the persons deprived of their liberty ... had been arrested by mistake.

Iraq. Says the Red Cross.

Posted by Claire @ 08:52 AM CST [Link]

Sunday, May 9, 2004

I SCREWED UP! In last Tuesday's exultant rant about the Firefly DVD collection, I had a link to Firefly on Amazon.com. Several people were thoughtful enough to buy DVDs through that link. (Thank you, guys!) Only thing is ... I made the link wrong. So the orders worked fine, but Wolfesblog wasn't credited with the purchases. Mea culpa (she says beating herself about the head and shoulders with an ethernet cable).

Tell you what. Enjoy your Firefly DVDs. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Then when you loan them to your best friend, or your cousin, or your little brother, or your Mom, or your ex-wife -- and you don't get them back -- because there's a good probability you won't get them back -- then you can buy your replacement set here, okay?

Posted by Claire @ 02:29 PM CST [Link]

YOU TELL ME: Is this just wild-and-crazy entertainment for machinery-loving masses? Or is this the future?

Aaron found this one. Hoo boy, Aaron, you do surf some strange stuff.

Posted by Claire @ 02:05 PM CST [Link]

KAREN DE COSTER IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. This heroic black woman's self-defense story should have made the national news. Good find. Ah, but Karen, I couldn't disagree more with this statement: "a woman with a concealed weapons permit -- the only kind of woman to be ..."

If I lived in Detroit and might have to make the choice of getting killed by freelance thugs or imprisoned by government gun-cop thugs, maybe I'd think a permit was a good thing. But trust me, girlfriend, in the real Land of the Free, a woman without a concealed carry permit -- but with a .45 -- is the kind of woman to be. Permits? We don' need no steenkin' permits!

Posted by Claire @ 09:17 AM CST [Link]

HADN'T YOU JUST BEEN WONDERING ABOUT THAT "TAKING RESPONSIBILITY" THING? Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "taking responsibility" this week for the abuse of Iraqis was so very like Janet Reno "taking responsibility" for Waco.

"I take responsibility." I don't resign. Don't go to prison. Don't pay a fine. Don't pay restitution. Don't face the family members or the abused and ask what I can do to make amends. Don't come out and oppose the injustices of the war. But "I take responsibility."

Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek has a forceful analysis of this and the bigger Bush II picture. Making us hated around the world is not going to make us safe.

Posted by Claire @ 08:11 AM CST [Link]

Friday, May 7, 2004

ALL THE PHOTOS ARE HORRIBLE ENOUGH, But the leash photo (link will open a pop-up window) that emerged yesterday is somehow the hardest to bear. It's one of those era-defining images, like little JohnJohn Kennedy saluting his father's coffin, that we'll never escape. And who is that itty-bitty girly who's the most prominent figure in so many of those photos? Lynndie England. A nice girl too independent to take orders against her will, say family members. Trailer trash from Ku Klux Klan Land say some of the media, seeking to distance themselves from the kind of American who'd do anything so squalid and nasty. Just a harmless sorority-hazer type of girl, says Rush Limbaugh (and bah to him; may he end up naked in jail someday, being "hazed," since his experiences as an illegal drug user haven't taught him any humility). Whoever she is, this smirking little mocker of Islamic manhood is doomed to be the face of America to a lot of the angry, humiliated Muslim world for a long, long time. And heaven forbid, we'll have to live with the consequences of that & not be too surprised if those consequences turn out to be damn scary.

Posted by Claire @ 02:57 PM CST [Link]

BILL ST. CLAIR, WHOSE BLOG KEEPS AN EYE ON THE FREEDOM BLOGWORLD, noticed the reopening of the Wolfesblog CafePress store almost before I did. isittimeyet (13k image)The designs in the store -- Debra's work -- aren't quite ready. We still need to do a tweak or two. But they're fun. Someday we hope to offer our own tee-shirts and mugs to avoid those terrible CafePress prices (all but $2.00 on each item goes to CafePress). But it's a hoot to be able to create custom merchandise -- even teddy bears and boxer shorts! -- so simply. The link to the store is in the new sidebar -- which is also Debra's work, with me filling in the blanks.

Posted by Claire @ 09:45 AM CST [Link]

MY TRAVELING FRIEND REPORTS FROM ISRAEL:

I'm hanging out in what some would call the Mouth of Hell. I'd have to tell you that, for one, Israel is nothing like what American Media has made it out to be. And, for two, it's probably a freedom-lover's nightmare come to life.

Although this rambling man has been blogging reports from various spots in the world -- including many places we don't consider havens of freedom -- Israel is the only country so far where he's said that he'll post no public information until he's safely out of the country. No specific reason, he says -- just an itchy, instinctive feeling that sharing honest observations about Israel while actually in Israel might not be good for a person's health.

The rest of his brief letter to me is behind the more link. [more]

Posted by Claire @ 08:38 AM CST [Link]

KH SENDS GOOD NEWS ON THE FIREFLY MOVIE. The film, titled Serenity, moves from pre-production into production this month. Criofan, over at The Claire Files forums, posted a link to this article intelligently speculating about Fox's possible murder of the original series. Could it really be because Firefly is (at least in part) a celebration of the post-war Confederates in our own nineteenth-century U.S.A.?

Posted by Claire @ 08:28 AM CST [Link]

Thursday, May 6, 2004

GUNS AND ABORTION ARE BOTH MATTERS OF CHOICE says Mary Zeiss Stange in a USA Today editorial. And permits, waiting periods, and other restrictions infringe rights and put women in danger.

Posted by Claire @ 12:36 PM CST [Link]

THE NEW BOOK IS COMING SOONER THAN EXPECTED! When I turned in the manuscript in on March 30, I expected a late-summer, early-fall release. That's the standard schedule. But Loompanics is just roaring ahead. The book will be out in JULY! Galleys are already in the hands of blurb writers. The title will be featured in the next catalog supplement. And the publisher will be starting to take pre-orders next week. This is great news. Many thanks to publisher Mike Hoy, and special thanks to editor Gia Cosindas, who just gets smarter and faster the more work they put on her shoulders.

I hear the sudden disappearance of 101 Things (after Loomps and I decided to pull it off the market) upset some distributors. One pleaded for just a couple of extra cases, please, please, please. Another said that had he known we were going to "disappear" the book he'd have asked that a special, final print run be done just for him.

Well, everybody can be happy soon. The new book, titled The Freedom Outlaw's Handbook, contains most of 101 Things -- all updated. But the subtitle tells the bigger story: "179 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution." It might not have quite the same ring as "101," but yep, it's a much bigger book.

Posted by Claire @ 08:41 AM CST [Link]

TWO MESSAGES TUMBLED INTO MY INBOX LAST NIGHT. They were right together. Both bore the simple subject line "Firefly." Both were from folks who'd gotten DVD sets of that phenomenal series in the last day or two. Both people were sending huge e-smiles of delight. And both suggested that Fox network executives (or "powers" above them) may have deliberately destroyed this series because of its subtle (and often not so subtle) individualist political message. I'm quite sure these two correspondents weren't colluding. One is a professional woman from the deep east coast. The other was Hermit on the Water (Hey, Hermit, nice to hear from you again!), writing from the deep, deep wilds of quite another part of the world. The fact that Firefly could spark delight in two such very different people says more than I could ever say. One of the correspondents had been watching steadily since 5:00 a.m. -- dashing home from appointments to catch the next episode, skipping meals. The other was looking forward to sharing the series with at least two relatives, as soon as possible.

Posted by Claire @ 08:29 AM CST [Link]

YOU CAN SEE WE'RE UNDER CONSTRUCTION around here this morning. Debra's adding a sidebar so that we can have various items handy: links to other blogs, "classic" entries from Wolfesblog, and soon links to our stores. Wolfesblog stats say that we're averaging more than 600 visits a day (three times what the old Wolfe's Lodge got!). The stats also tell us the average visit is under one minute -- pop in, read today's blogstuff, pop out. That's the nature of blogs, it seems. So it makes sense to put important links right out where even a 15-second visitor can see them -- and maybe become a 45-second visitor. :-)

We'll also be reopening our Cafepress store soon, since they dropped the policy that made all small stores completely unprofitable. Cafepress merchandise is overpriced, but it's still a fun, easy way for a little Web site to be able to offer custom-made goods without all the big upfront expenses and fulfillment. And our old Cafepress store was the only place in the world to get my favorite item: A wall clock that asks "Is it time yet?"

Posted by Claire @ 08:19 AM CST [Link]

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

THAT'S IT, DEBRA. YOU'RE NEVER GETTING THOSE FIREFLY DVDS BACK. Two nights ago, reluctantly, I watched the 14th and final episode of Firefly, Fox's foolishly cancelled SF series. Knowing there would be no more, I wanted to draw the experience out (to savor it like good wine, as another newborn Firefly fan wrote yesterday).

When the last moment of the last episode ended, there was a hole in the universe. A space-ship shaped hole. An adventure-shaped hole. A freedom-shaped hole.

I just discovered Firefly a bit over a week ago, after Debra darned near chained me to a chair and made me start watching. I'd heard the buzz about the show for a while, especially when libertarian cartoonist Lux Lucre, a huge Firefly fan, died a couple of months ago. But it was a flipping TV series, and what could I care about that?

Well, I care. And I expect you will, too, if you don't already. If you haven't discovered this wonderful, tragically aborted series ... see for yourself. In fact, please buy for yourself and help support the effort to get this series the recognition and revival it deserves.


Firefly is hard to describe. Nine members of a Firefly class space ship traverse the universe, picking up smuggling jobs and dodging agents of the tyrannical alliance. But don't expect Klingons in 30 pounds of rubber mask. There are no aliens. Few whiz-bang technologies. There are, instead, horses. And cattle. And whorehouses. And trains. And sagebrush. And hodowns and shindigs. And bad guys straight out of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western. And gunfights. Lots of gunfights. Because this is a frontier. And oh yes, the characters often speak -- and cuss -- in Chinese.

Yes, it sounds faintly ridiculous. And if you're after hard science or any attempt at a realistic depiction of a future 500 years hence, forget it. But if you're after a wonderfully woven story, with nine central characters you can truly care about, great settings, and -- above all -- wonderfully sharp, often very funny, always unexpected writing, then the $35 you spend for that four-DVD set will buy you something precious. Joss Whedon (Toy Story, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel) outdid himself creating Firefly. I'm not a person who gets fannish about anything. But my second response on finishing the final episode was to go back and start to watch them all all over again.

I thought, "How could anybody cancel a show this excellent?" Then I Googled around and found out.

Fox put this show on in the fall of 2002 -- and botched it from the get go. If they had set out to destroy the program, they couldn't have done it more thoroughly. For starters, they aired the crucial first episode last. Without that episode, you might love the show, but you could hardly understand it. Instead they opened with an episode that probably made quite a few people go "HUH? Westerns in outer space???" Then they set about pre-emting and moving show after show, so even the gathering gaggle of dedicated fans couldn't find Firefly when they went looking for it -- or when they told their friends to look for it.

Then -- oh such a surprise! -- it didn't draw ratings. And Fox cancelled it. Cancelled it leaving us to wonder ... What exactly did the Alliance do to River in that terrible school, and what unknown powers has it left her with? ... Is Shepherd Book really the gentle, celibate missionary he seems, or is there something much more to him, as all those little hints imply? ... What will happen between the bold, witty, but emotionally isolated Captain Mal and the beautiful, intuitive "registered companion" Inara? And who are the icy, ruthless men who follow Serenity "two by two, with hands of blue"?

Oh yes, and will we ever, ever, ever get another chance to see Mal's nice, firm naked butt? (That scene, in the episode "Trash," was a hoot. But definitely one of the things that surprised me, after 10 years of not watching TV, was how rawly, openly sexual a TV series can be now. Firefly has its moments. They're tastefully handled, but this one's probably not for the little G-rated kiddies.)

My first thought after finishing the DVDs was that the Fox execs who destroyed Firefly should be slathered with honey then staked out over a red ant's nest. But on second thought, a far better fate would be to make them watch as Firefly catches cult fire and becomes the Star Trek of the 21st century -- but better than ST ever dreamed of being. Let them writhe in the agony of their own incredibly blind decisionmaking.

-----

I should shut up now. But one more quick note. In my first mention of Firefly I said I didn't buy the notion of some sweet little girly (Kaylee) as Serenity's mechanic. "Bring back Scotty!" sez I. A friendly blog reader took my comments over to FireflyFans.net, where some folks told me in a nice, polite way that I was wrong. Okay, guys. You were right! Didn't take long to become very fond of Kaylee -- especially after that quick glimpse (in the episode "Out of Gas") of how she came to get that interesting job. LOL. I love it that Firefly can make a person laugh and cry in the same episode.

I'm even getting attached to the big, dumb, thuggish, sell-out-anybody-for-a-buck character of Jayne. (As Capt. Mal says, "Next time you stab me in the back, have the guts to do it to my face!")

Posted by Claire @ 09:53 AM CST [Link]

THE PRISONER'S VILLAGE COMES TO AMERICA. With more than a little help from the EPA and the Department of Homeland Security, an entrepreneur plans to turn an idyllic Maine island into a mini-surveillance state. Not only will cameras watch every movement on the island, photograph every license plate, and try to recognize every face, but "intelligent" software will decide who's trustworthy and who's "suspicious."

And of course, the systems will pay special attention to anyone who appears to want to avoid detection.

It's all better than "walking around looking over your shoulder, being afraid someone is going to attack you," says the fed-sucking businessman. No evidence is given that anyone on the island actually is in constant danger of attack. And the article doesn't mention why the feds should give money to encourage one man's apparent paranoid mental illness. Isn't there a pill he could take for his condition, instead?

And just remember ... There is no escape from The Village.

"What do you want?"

"Information."

"You won't get it!"

"By hook or by crook ... we will."

Posted by Claire @ 09:15 AM CST [Link]

Monday, May 3, 2004

THIS ARTICLE SAYS GAS PRICES have gone up $.35 per gallon since December. Not sure what planet that's on, but in my neighborhood gas prices have gone up almost exactly that much in the last three weeks. Since I returned from my trip it's been a tad spooky watching the prices on the signs go up by a cent or three every single day.

Damn. Go to war for oil and not even get cheap gas out of it!

The article isn't actually about that, though. Its point is that, to compensate for high gas prices, people are spending less on groceries. They're allegedly abandoning grocery stores and fleeing into the arms of the big discount superstores. Understandable, if true. But in many rural areas, that also means they're fleeing from Mom and Pop's IGA franchise for the easy virtues of the mega-corp, sad to see.

Posted by Claire @ 11:30 AM CST [Link]

APPRENTICE PROSTITUTES NEEDED. No, not just needed. Required by law.

Rick, where do you find this stuff?

Posted by Claire @ 11:22 AM CST [Link]

IT'S HARD EVEN TO LOOK AT THE IMAGES let alone to think that nice, civilized British* and American taxpayers financed these horrors. All in the name of liberating Iraq from torturers, of course.

War crimes. Committed by Americans in -- oh lord, the irony! -- Saddam's most infamous prison, known for its tortures.

And just how do you account for a general who's supposed to be in charge of prisons who says that's it's all just plain not her fault because "military intelligence" made them do it?

-----

* Note May 15, 2004: The British photos turned out, notoriously, to be fakes. Reports from various watchdog groups do say the British have been abusing their prisoners in southern Iraq, but not to the degree show in these photos or described in the accompanying text.

Posted by Claire @ 08:40 AM CST [Link]

AT LEAST THERE'S A LITTLE GOOD NEWS on touch-screen voting machines. The much-publicized word that California is decertifying the insecure beasties and starting a criminal probe into the actions of Diebold and ES&S is just one of many, many dominoes that are falling worldwide.

But sheesh, I had no idea this whole "trust us" voting scam was basically the work of two brothers.

Voters can run, but they can't hide from these guys. Meet the Urosevich brothers, Bob and Todd. Their respective companies, Diebold and ES&S, will count (using both computerized ballot scanners and touchscreen
machines) about 80 percent of all votes cast in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

Both ES&S and Diebold have been caught installing uncertified software in their machines. Although there is no known certification process that will protect against vote rigging or technical failure, it is a requirement of most, if not all, states.


Posted by Claire @ 08:31 AM CST [Link]

I NEED A WIFE. No, I'm not of the homosexual persuasion. And I'm not rushing down to Hardyville town hall to demand a government license to conduct my relationships. (Imagine the reaction if I did.) But over the weekend -- as I was trying to wrap up a large job for a client while also doing my spring cleaning, hunting for a piece of long-lost (and suddenly vital) paperwork, and keeping the dogs entertained -- it occurred to me (for perhaps the umpteenth time in my life, I must confess) that I really, really, really could use a wife.

I've always liked guys. But I also always end up doing a lot more housework and cooking when they're around. And I still have to earn my own living. So a husband I don't need. But what luxury it would be to be able to focus on my work-work while somebody else fixed the meals, cleaned the kitchen, and removed the clutter of books, DVDs, paper, dog toys, and the occasional firearm before they threaten to bury Cabin Sweet Cabin in stuff.

Oh, I know. With just a bit of the wrong variety of luck, I'd end up with the sort of wife who buys 300 pairs of designer shoes on credit and has PMS of Janet Reno proportions. And I'd still have to clean the dust bunnies out from under my own bed.

But a girl can dream, can't she?

Posted by Claire @ 08:04 AM CST [Link]

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