As pretty as this always is I’m so ready for summer and being able to work on The Gulch projects.
I lost a friend the other day. Not a flesh and blood friend but a whole internet community. I joined a writer’s forum when I decided to start writing again. This was a neat little community composed of members from all over the world. I made several flesh and blood friends there who I’m sure will be reading this, so I better say “Hi” to at least Penny, Link, and Jon before going any further. Right off the bat I had some problems with the moderation policy but chose to voluntarily censor myself in order to be part of the community. It was private property and I understood (and respected) exactly what that meant. I thought everything was going smoothly until I posted a picture of a couple of firearms I own. This picture was in a thread specifically for the purpose of off topic (non-writer related) pictures. It was deleted and one of the moderators posted a tirade (In thirty point red characters) about how “heavy weaponry” was inappropriate. I went and reread the contract I agreed to (the rules) and couldn’t find anything that could possibly backup that statement. I decided I needed to explain myself, since I was getting the feeling that he and possibly others had an incorrect view of who I was. I also wanted to get to the root of the rabid anti-gun sentiment. So I made the following “blog” post there:
I very rarely explain myself, so anyone reading this should feel very privileged. I feel if someone makes false assumptions they will eventually get what they deserve. However, since I felt so at ease here maybe I didn’t explain my position as fully as I should have before voicing some of my more radical views (or “offensive” pictures.)….
….I believe every single person on the face of this planet has the same rights. More specifically I believe any person can do whatever they want as long as those actions don’t interfere with anyone else’s ability to do the same. Because of this I argue with religious fundamentalists (Christian/Jewish/Muslim) about their church’s policies of religious persecution against other religions. I argue with liberals about their belief they can deprive people of methods of self-defense (gun laws.) I argue with conservatives about their belief they can tell others what they can ingest (drug laws.) I argue with both liberals and conservatives about the theft of other’s labors (taxes.) I argue with conservatives about this country’s neo-imperialism (the war in Iraq). I argue with liberals about property rights (environmental laws.) I argue with conservatives about civil rights (The 1984esque Big Bother surveillance state.)I argue with liberals about “affirmative action”. I argue with conservatives about their opinions about homosexuals. I argue with anyone who thinks zoning/planning is not a violation of property rights. I argue with everyone about immigration laws (there shouldn’t be any.) However, in this case I’m not arguing for any actions on the recent event but feel I have a right to explain myself.
I don’t believe anybody can deprive another person of any of their Rights. My writing and posts will almost always reflect this. If this poses an insurmountable problem for members here I will stop sharing my work and opinions.
I know I followed the rules for the picture thread in “The Lounge” that ****** had posted just a few pages prior to my post e.g. It was a picture that I had taken. Even though it didn’t violate the board rules by being pornographic, racist, spam, illegal (I legally own all the items*that were in the picture) etc. I apologize for missing the rule stating nothing could be considered scary by anyone at anytime for any reason. In my defense I hadn’t expected to find such a rule in a forum that should encourage creativity, and that must be why I missed it.
*The pictured items in question were firearms. These tools of equalization should not be feared by anyone. The smallest one pictured my wife carries everyday and because of that I never worry about her being raped or murdered just because someone is physically stronger than her. The middle sized one is a MBR (Main Battle Rifle) this is a semi-auto version of the current U.S. military infantryman’s weapon. I have used that weapon to kill only once; when a bear that had killed several of my baby goats attacked one of our nannies in her goat house. The largest weapon is a .50BMG it is the largest firearm most Americans can legally own. I say most because ownership is illegal in some states like California and New York, but here in Montana it is commonly owned. (Even larger weapons can be legally owned in this country if an individual pays a fifty dollar tax.) That weapon is capable of easily killing beyond 1000 yards (1 Kilometer.) However it has never be shot at anything besides lifeless targets. I love guns. I love the thrill of shooting them. I love the beauty of the craftsmanship that is required to make them, but most of all I love the freedom they guarantee. A fact that should be better known is that all genocides in history were preceded by government imposed firearm restrictions. Millions of Russians Stalin murdered (including a fair number of writers), the Cambodians (also including a large number of writers) that were sent to “The Killing Fields”, and the Jews in Warsaw in 1943 all should have taken firearm ownership more seriously. If they had they would have had a better chance of not being murdered.
The following are some thoughts on this topic by the founders of my country:
Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.
—Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (Philadelphia 1787).
Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man gainst his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American…[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.
—Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.
[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually…I ask, who are the militia? They consist of now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor…
Because of this post I was able to engage the two moderators in a discussion about what happened. They claimed it (the picture) violated the rules because it wasn’t writer related. I then asked one of them how a picture of his dog he had just posted in that same thread was “writer related” and he backtracked and said the picture was “offensive”. I argued quite successfully (I believe) against this point. I was successful if measured by the fact they stopped debating it. I took the high road and didn’t even need to point out that that same thread had pictures a member had taken of herself half-naked, bound in handcuffs and gagged, (which incidentally I liked even more than my gun picture.)
I thought that was the end of it, and was quite proud of being able to dispel some common misconceptions about firearm ownership. However, the next day three members that a friend of mine would classify as “Euro-pussies” except for the surprising “Aussie-pussy” posted emotional based arguments about how guns are “vulgar barbaric killing machines”. I tried to get these members to put aside emotions and try some logical debate but to no avail. I doubt they even looked at the excellent JPFO (Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership) genocide and gun laws correlation chart I linked:
I eventual got them to, if not reevaluate their positions, to at least shut up with the following post:
“So you three would support a blanket ban of all Israeli and Swiss members here since they must be barbaric killers because they are required by their laws to own and know how to use firearms.”
The next day when I logged in I found out I had been banned with no type of explanation. They also Memory Holed almost all of my substantial posts. The exceptions to the purge were every single short story I had shared there. I suspect they kept these to lend a sense of credibility to the board. Oh well, good bye. Sometimes it takes a little while to discover someone you thought was your friend really isn’t.
Thankfully I still have, if not my oldest, my dearest internet forum. Ironically enough I suspect the percentage of members who have been published there is higher than at the writer’s forum I was banned from. It’s a place where all the rules can be summed up in ten words; nothing illegal, no spam, and no disclosure of other’s personal information. Only once were moderator actions used there (for a death threat) and even that was debated by all the board’s members including the member who made the threat. It’s the kind of place where an original member of the CPC (Certain Persons Cabal) like me can feel free and write whatever I want without worry of censorship. Sometimes posts are not made in the best place, or a thread might be “jacked” way beyond recognition, or a booby picture might be posted but I can live with that. Like Benjamin Franklin said:
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Since I believe in all forms of freedom including the freedom of expression, I welcome anyone who disagrees with any of this post to share their opinions as a comment. I do not moderate and I promise any comments will not be edited as long as they comply with the very loose rules of my favorite forum; nothing illegal, no spam, and no disclosure of other’s personal information.
I had just finished throwing a pitchfork full of hay in the goat’s manger when I heard the helicopter. My family and I live in such a sparsely populated area that this isn’t a common occurrence. Most worrisome was the fact that it was towing something that looked like a giant torpedo. I caught myself thinking: well they’ve finally come for me. My reaction got me thinking about how a person such as me could end up thinking about the possibility of being murdered by someone in a helicopter.
Less than ten years ago I was a typical American. I was a partner in a small business, was in debt up to my ears, had our children enrolled in public school, happily paid my taxes and voted every four years. Then things started changing. The elementary school my daughter attended told my wife and me that we would have to force our daughter take speed. They called it Ritalin but on the street this same drug is sold as speed. We agreed, but just a few months later my daughter asked me if she could stop. She was crying and said it made her “not feel right”. I did what would any other parent would have done. I called the school and told them I wasn’t going to continue forcing her to take the drug. They told me if I didn’t she couldn’t attend anymore. The only solution we could afford was to home-school her.
I had read Atlas Shrugged about a year before we started homeschooling and was so moved by Ayn Rand’s book I declared myself a Libertarian. I would eventually become our county’s Libertarian Party Contact, and would wage many battles against the local government. During this time I started looking into aspects of our Constitution that weren’t covered in my High School civics class. I had several of my Letters to the Editor published in the local paper. In these letters I argued against the constitutionality of the proposed county Growth Policy, and other legislative acts. Because of our efforts we were able to get the growth plan severely scaled back. We fell short of a complete victory because it was still instigated in its less egregious form.
Our business was still fairly young but it did provide us with full time employment even if the pay was less than spectacular. Then the business won a bid to provide services to a global company. This company expected sixty hours per week of work in a neighboring state. I was the only employee available for this work. For several months I worked those sixty hours. My weeks were averaging more than eighty hours with the commute. I was thrilled about this much work. The hourly billing rate was the highest I had ever billed out and I knew I was soon going to be living the American Dream. This dream came crashing down upon my shoulders the day our CPA explained the IRS needed all the money we had saved in the business account and it still wasn’t enough to cover what we owed. We had to take out a sizable loan to cover the rest.
The one-two punch of losing most of our property rights to the Growth Policy and losing most of the fruits of my labors to the IRS inspired me to go ahead with a plan I considered after finishing Atlas Shrugged. We Shrugged. Now days what we did is called “Going Galt” however this same thing has been happening ever since Rand wrote the book and was historically called “Shrugging” or “Gulching”. The phrase Shrugging comes from an analogy to the mythical Atlas realizing that he is shouldering the weight of the world and rejecting this burden. Like Atlas more of my labor was stolen via taxes just because I was more capable. The difference in my earnings between working eighty hour weeks barely exceeded what I earned working forty hour weeks. I was converted from an entrepreneur who believed in the American dream to a slave with the IRS as my master. Like all slaves I decided I wouldn’t work any harder than I was force to.
My wife and I gave up our interests in the business. We sold our home at the peak of the real estate market and took those profits with us as we hit the road seeking a new way of life. After several months of traveling the Rockies in our vintage Airstream we found a small mountain town in Montana. The town had the feel of freedom. There wasn’t a single stop light or parking meter. The bars provided people “to go” cups. A woman in town had a pet cow. There were no city cops or even a dog catcher. We purchased two mining claims above this little town. I built an off-grid log home. We planted a garden and purchased livestock.
We now live comfortably near the poverty line because we are debt free and mostly self-sufficient. We hope the government shrinks back to a reasonable level or disappears all together but even if it doesn’t we’ve made our own freedom. We no longer support an entity whose only purpose has morphed into nothing more than a vehicle to enslave citizens. Because of this I fear the government has classified me as a terrorist. I guess from their point of view I might just be; I do hope my actions inspire others to follow my example and I can see how losing tax revenues from the most productive section of the population could terrify them. However, even if I home school my children, can quote the constitution and avoid paying taxes I’m not a terrorist. A few weeks after seeing the helicopter I discovered that it was just a magnetic survey of all the mining claims around ours but I still worry about what the slave masters might someday do because I refuse to live as an indentured servant.
The man went by many names. He wasn’t sure which he would use when he sent his current work out into the world, or even where it might end up. Of course he wasn’t thinking about this now. He was running his fingers through his thick beard. He was proud of his beard and rightly so, not many people could grow such luxurious facial hair. He found that this action helped him put his thoughts in order. He was struggling to start a story. The blinking curser seemed to mock him like an impatient driver waiting in a car in front of a house honking the horn.
“How does a person sum up such a full life in five hundred words?” He mumbled. The logs that he had shaped with his own hands into the home surrounding him offered no answers. Then his eyes widened, his posture straightened and his fingers sought the keys in front of him. Using three fingers of each hand in a way that would send any typing teacher into fits, he started writing.
He typed: “The boy sat in the Junior High school library. A book titled Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains lay open if front of him. He had started spending his recesses in the library studying to be a mountain man ever since the suspension. He was suspended for selling bubblegum filled suckers on the school grounds. Last week when he was sitting in front of the principle he was too ashamed to admit his family’s poverty as the reason for selling the candy. He had wrongly believed the fact that the exact same candy was sold by the school store would save him. His arguments about capitalism and the American dream had no effect… ”
The man shook his head and pressing the backspace key erased all he had written. “Screw this,” he said as he closed the laptop and pulled some papers out of a manila folder next to him. The sharp lines on the sheets showed his building projects for the coming summer. He shuffled through the blueprints for the attached greenhouse, the third floor writing room, and the mine adit to his root cellar. His face brightened as he reached the sheet with the mechanical engineering diagram for the complicated power dump to water heating schematic. He pulled a drafting pencil out of the same manila folder the plans had come from. With the pencil poised over the sheet he studied it for several minutes. With a sigh he realized that all the planning that could be done was already done. He placed the plans and the pencil back in the folder and reopened the laptop.
He typed: “The man had arrived an hour early to smuggle in the protest signs. These signs were now safely hid behind his chair in the back of the room. He fidgeted, the rest of his group wouldn’t arrive for some time and he was getting bored. He spotted a piece of chalk on the table at the front of the room where the planning commission would be giving the press conference. With a huge smile on his face he walked to the front of the room and wrote “6:00PM- Fascism in Action” on the chalkboard behind the podium. He had just returned to his seat when the local access TV station crew showed up and started setting up their equipment….”
“It’s all crap” The man said as he once again erased all the words he had just typed. He rose from where he was typing and walked downstairs to the huge pantry. The pantry had originally been designed to be a dining room but his wife had persuaded him to convert it into a cool room to store their long term food storage. He told friends it was so large in case they ever got snowed in for the winter. He didn’t ever mention the times when they were so poor that they couldn’t afford to buy food for weeks and these provisions kept his family from going hungry. He walked the thirteen feet down the aisle looking at the thousands of pounds of food most resting safely on shelves in canning jars he had processed himself. He wasn’t really hungry and nothing appealed to him. Closing the insulated door he returned to his writing area and once again opened the computer.
He typed: “The sun shone off the vintage Airstream, blinding the drivers of the trucks that occasionally thundered past. Dry rolling hills with sparse clumps of sage and cheat grass lay beyond a large rectangular sign. The sign was old splintered wood with flaking brown paint. Carved deeply into the ancient wood were the words “Welcome to Montana”. A man was rubbing the sign in a way that was almost a caress. A woman was walking a dog along the fence behind the sign. A boy ran up to the man with a deer horn that was bleached to a ghostly white.
“Look what I found dad,” the boy said.
“Yup…. Well, we finally made it. Get your mother, sister and the dogs over here. I want a picture.”
After the boy ran off the man felt himself holding back tears. Years of planning had led to this moment. “A new life,” he thought to himself. Then he thought of the six figure cashier check locked safely in the fireproof safe hidden in the camper and smiled. It was a smile that advertised hope and freedom….”
“I can’t write that, there’s no ending. I haven’t finished that story in my life yet.” The man said as he deleted it. “Screw it. It’s just a stupid writing contest. It’s not like there is even a cash prize.” He shut off the computer and wandered downstairs. While feeding the woodstove decided to go check for eggs, feed the goats and water his new mushroom spawn.
Every Saint Patrick’s Day for several years I’ve watched The Boondock Saints. This year my wife bought the sequel and we watched it last night. I wish they had shown me a viewing of it before it was released. I would have bet the house I built with my own hands I could have written a better screenplay. The acting was horrible but at least it was better than the writing. The plot theme was completely different from the original and it seemed like a bad fan film written by dozens of different people with different goals. The antagonist’s motivations were not revealed until more than halfway through, and then they were presented in the form of multiple flashbacks and dream sequences that were so long that they pulled the watcher away from the actual plot. I suspect the writer(s) wanted to match the dark humor of the original and after failing settled for crude jokes about prison rapes. It had all the elegance of a public service announcement and appeared to be written at the same level of intelligence. The original was such a well written movie that sharing its name with this is an insult. Thank God I had watched a quirky little Icelandic film called White Night Wedding the night before. That was a good film. The memories of which kept me from chewing off my own arm in an attempt to escape after the wife and kids refused to turn it off.
Dear God, I need you to explain a few things. Since you are supposedly all knowing and all powerful feel free to comment here. I wouldn’t want to waste your very valuable time by demanding a personal appearance.
1) Cancer: OK, so you are all powerful but have chosen people will die anyways, fine. Heaven, angels, harps, yaddy yada. But, what kind of sadistic freak would come up with cancer?
2) Dogs: Why don’t dogs live as long as people?
3) Hunger: If you could do that thing with the fish and bread, why are so many people on this earth going to bed hungry tonight?
4) Sanction of the Church: One of your churches refused to marry my wife and me because I was a “heathen” but we are still happily married almost two decades later. Yet, that same church married my wife’s brother and his Christian wife and their marriage ended horribly after only a few years. How could this happen?
5) Sex: Why is this supposedly so bad?
6) War: WTF….What The Fuck. No really, What the Fuck?
7) Birth Defects: Why are so many innocent babies born with debilitating often fatal illnesses?
8) Torture: Why hasn’t Dick Chaney and those like him not received lightning bolts up their asses?
9) Taxes and tithing: Why are people forced to take care of others? What’s wrong with your voluntary Christian charity? Where is the Free Will your followers love to go on about?
10) Hate: Why do so many people hate others just because they are different from themselves?
11) Alzheimer’s: Why will one of the brightest people I have even known of be reduced to wearing diapers soon? Death would be less cruel.
The snow falls
Ending the purpose of everything seeking warmth and light
A reminder of the cold and darkness
Believed to be behind us
My soul cries for the baby plants
As much as for myself
I envision myself shivering
Buried under a smothering white blanket of nonexistence
A sadistic joke upon hope
All promise of rebirth withdrawn
Cruelty for its own sake
An impersonal death
Killing the ambitious
Those who rise will be cut down
Returned to nothingness
I totally stole this title from a scatterbrained friend of mine, but it fits.
Three days ago I sat down to write and I just didn’t feel any motivation to work on the manuscript. I had a completed outline and three chapters done but it was turning into what seemed like a lot of work. All the spontaneity was gone. I had every character outlined, and everything they were going to do. So I decided I’d warm up with a short story that I could share with friends here and elsewhere. Anyways, that short story is now 6800 words. I’ve wrote all that in just the last three days, and the most important part is I’m having a lot of fun doing it. I’m developing everything (characters and plot) at most two chapters out and having a ball. My writer friends will scorn me for this but it’s a western genre fiction piece. But hey, I know a shit load about guns, horses, and dogs.