I've been feeling pretty good lately, I have a decent job, a wonderful wife, awesome friends, and a new-found purpose in life: liberty activism in New Hampshire. In a world as messed up as ours, its been a profound comfort to have found such peace and purpose. But I've also been a bit startled recently including having feelings of helplessness, distrust, and insecurity.
My truck got broken into.
I had just gotten home from work and not 10 minutes transpired before I heard a loud crash and some rustling outside. As I rushed out the door, I saw someone had broken the window of my truck and was diving inside to grab my video camera. Before I knew it, I was several blocks away from my house, running full speed 10 feet behind the guy who was also running like hell. I kept chasing him, never quite closing the gap between him and myself until I ran out of energy. He turned the corner and I followed a bit more slowly. Knowing he was hiding, I looked closely in the darkness for him and I finally saw the guy dash from his hiding spot and continue running away. I said a few more unkind words in his direction as he fled, but there was nothing more for me to do. Out of breath, dejected, and quite frustrated, I walked back home. Kellie was already outside at this point wondering what had happened, we assessed the damage and confirmed that he had destroyed the passenger side window of my truck and managed to steal my video camera.
My Landlord had already called the cops and they showed up about 10 minutes later. Since they were there anyway, I gave them my take on what happened, although I had never really gotten a good look at the guy. I really didn't have much hope that the police would ever do anything (and in an ideal world we wouldn't have such agents of force). Kellie left to do her own reconnaissance at the corner store and surprised me when she told me that she saw the same cops doing actual detective work, questioning the store manager. Although I'm almost sure that these same men have violated the rights of peaceful individuals before, and will most likely continue to do so in their roles as agents of the state, I'm glad that they take their jobs seriously enough to want to protect peace when they can.
I don't really leave anything that valuable in my truck. The camera is a somewhat cheap Samsung SC-MX10, I had it mounted to my dash with a Modifry camera mount (The mount got ripped out with the camera), this setup was supposed to record the cops if I ever got pulled over. Sadly, I never got to try that out. I'm sure that the way I had it mounted made it stand out as an easy target for a thief.
I called up my insurance rep as well as an auto glass shop and got things taken care of pretty quickly, the auto glass shop was even willing to drive out to my house the next day and repair it right there even while I went to work that day. I love how market competition makes this so easy.
In total, I'm out $200 for the camera, $25 for the mount, and $163.15 for the glass. Yea, $388 is kind of a lot. However I was much more irritated with the inconvenience of it all, as well as the knowledge that there are people right in my neighborhood that have no reservations in actively destroying their society. The reason I'm here in NH is to work towards creating a civil and voluntary society. Its one thing to disagree with my ideas, I'm used to that. Its quite another to find that you live in a community where some percentage of the people do the exact opposite; creating a society of violence and distrust.
I'm left with a renewed sense of the importance of security, including responsible firearms ownership and carrying whenever possible. I don't actually think that a gun would have been useful in this situation, especially after the incident was carried onto the open street at 12 mph, but knowing first hand that desperation has led people to such forceful actions, it makes me much more cautious.
I've been a registered voter ever since I was 18 and a dues paying member of the Libertarian party for most of that time. I've always felt it was important to vote, especially according to ones conscience. I've always taken voting very seriously and have strived to always choose the best candidate -- the one who would do the least amount of harm -- the one who would stand up in defense of liberty.
Frequent visitors to this site will know that I have talked a lot about politics over the years. I've mentioned names of politicians that I've supported: Michael Badnarik, and Ron Paul. I've even dropped names of politicians I don't support: Mitt Romney. Recently I dropped out of the Libertarian party, but I remained sure that I could find a new political home, one that would respect my desires to have a principled approach to living in this democratic-republic of "ours".
Specifically, I wanted that new political home to be the Free State of New Hampshire.
When I got here I wanted to get involved with everything. One problem the Free State has ... is that you can't do that. You HAVE to choose what you're going to do, simply because there is so much activism going on here that you cannot be in two places at the same time. The first thing I got involved with was the NH Liberty Alliance delivering literature on the most freedom friendly candidates running in NH. Being very disgruntled with the state of national politics, I sincerely wanted to get involved with NH local politics, believing that I could do two things:
- Keep my principles of the non-initiation of force
- Actually get people, that actually represent my desires, elected
This was a prospect that gave me immense hope. I wanted to come to NH and change things. Instead, NH changed me.
I began helping one of the NHLA endorsed candidates, Jason Bedrick, in his campaign for the state legislature. I asked him, will you sign the small government pledge? I thought this was a very reasonable thing for him to do, I had heard that NH was one of the freest states in the country and has the largest legislature in the country (meaning a low citizen to representative ratio) and that the NHLA was endorsing the best liberty-friendly candidates they could find, to top that off Jason Bedrick was the NHLA top pick with a rating of A++ on their scorecard. Certainly, I had to have been dealing with the most liberty friendly candidate in the country.
He would not sign the pledge. Instead he would continue to vote for increased taxes, albeit minimally, and that he would pledge to limit "the budget increase to inflation plus population growth." In other words, he could not find one single government program that he could cut in order to decrease the states budget. Later, I would find that Jason endorsed Mike Huckabee for president. Is this seriously the best that the NHLA could find?!? Helping Jason was the last political action I've taken in NH.
Instead, I have been involved with alternative forms of activism. I have been to the federal court in support of the peaceful civil disobedience of Kat Kanning and Lauren Canario who were both jailed for peacefully and silently protesting tax funded torture in an IRS office. I have engaged in civil disobedience of breaking curfew laws in Manchester city park. I have participated in open-carry litter pickups. I have sold hot dogs in violation of police orders to vacate a plot of land. I have supported a friend in peaceful protest and burning of the US Flag. Granted, none of this may seem like much, but I feel that I have been able to demonstrate my spirit of liberty with more people than I ever could by shoving junk mail in someones door or by voting.
But why am I not voting? Certainly it wouldn't take much of my time to go mark a check by someones name that could possibly make our society ever-so-slightly more free? Right?
I have been frustrated recently because I cannot find a candidate that I can support, but I didn't understand until very recently why it so hard for me to find such a candidate -- my principle that it is wrong to initiate force against another is antithetical to the very idea of voting. When I vote, I cannot vote for the lesser of evils; a lesser evil is still evil. Even from a purely defensive argument, I cannot vote for the person that will do less harm to me because that vote is seen as a mandate. It is an endorsement from me to the candidate that he should follow his preestablished platform, one that I vehemently oppose, but one that I ultimately voted for. It is a vicious cycle of buck passing. It's also not good enough that I vote for a candidate that actually will increase liberty. Sure, he may promise to decrease government, and he may actually accomplish it. But what about all that he fails to do? There may be a candidate that will abolish 15 different government agencies, but there is no candidate out there that will ever abolish them all. Even if there was, he surely would be unwilling to do it all at once. By voting, I am supporting, and ultimately condemning, everyone in this country to serve the state in the meantime. And here's the rub, while I want liberty, especially from government, I have no right to take what I consider oppression away from someone that actually wants that oppression.
What I have discovered is that it is actually impossible for someone to represent me. Therefore, it is my responsibility to assert my own liberty in my own life. I cannot rely on anyone else to fight for my liberty, nor even if I could, no democratically elected politician could ever do so without violating another persons rights. I pledge to pursue a life full of voluntary interactions with my fellow human beings, never forcing my view point on them, unless they agress against me first.
Ron Paul, you're an admirable man. I sent you hundreds of dollars in hopes that you would inspire this country towards the ideals of liberty. You did not fail me. However, I cannot vote for you ... and I won't.
Voting is the method for obtaining legal power to coerce others. --Robert LeFevre
Google Calendar is highly useful. I use it to keep track of all my appointments and due dates and I get helpful reminders when dates approach via email and SMS. Not only that, but it allows me to collaborate with other people's calendars as well, and they don't even have to use Google Calendar because Google supports the industry standard iCalendar format. Things are great.
Unfortunately, iCalendar format is pretty new, and not everyone is using it.
Because Google Calendar is so useful, it is annoying when you find a calendar that is not in iCal format. Two of note that I want to follow are
Both of these calendars are running Simple Machines Forum, version 1.x which does not support iCalendar format (presumably they will in 2.0).
So I wrote an exporter: Download SMF iCal exporter
The exporter scrapes the calendar page on an SMF enabled site and dumps out an iCal compatible file.
Usage: smf_ical_converter.py -u http://yourforum.com/index.php -o cal.ics Download a SMF 1.x forum calendar and dump in iCal format Options: --version show program's version number and exit -h, --help show this help message and exit -u URL, --url=URL URL of forum (up to and including /index.php) -n Name, --name=Name Name of the Forum / Calendar (name goes in .ics file) -i EXPR, --ignore-re=EXPR Ignore any event containing this regular expression (specify as many -i as you want) -o File, --output=File iCal filename to write -v, --verbose Be verbose about process --months-backward=NUM Number of months to go backward --months-forward=NUM Number of months to go forward
I have this tool running in a cron job to keep up to date with the two above mentioned calendars. You can import these URLs directly into your Google Calendar:
- NHUnderground.com iCal calendar (Includes just events, I use "-i 'Birthdays:'" for this one)
- FreeKeene.com iCal calendar
Update 09/16/08: I uploaded version 2 of this application. It has a better README and it now supports user specific date ranges.