Ghosts, is it?

Listening to the Halloween edition of Free Talk Live today, while the host trots out some accounts of Ghost Hunters and their exploits in New York and New Jersey to laugh at.

I’d like to say up front that I am not a believer; but having had experiences with what most people refer to as spirits, experiences that I cannot explain, I can’t dismiss the possibility of the paranormal. (More on that in a bit)

Ghost Hunters is a weekly show on the SciFi channel, they are in their third season. The episode with the theater and an orb of light that was discussed and laughed about on air was one where (contrary to the jokes) they debunked any claims to paranormal activity. If I remember correctly, the owners were actually relieved that there wasn’t evidence of anything occurring. It wasn’t something they were comfortable with.

It became painfully clear early in the radio show that the subject of the paranormal did not fall on sympathetic ears, as anyone who called with experiences that they tried to explain, or factual data (in the form of EVP’s) that didn’t make normal sense were immediately attacked with questions like “why aren’t there any real scientists working on it” calling into question anything not done by licensed professionals (a very un-libertarian stance for a libertarian talkshow) as if gov’t approved professionals were the be all and end all on any subject. The scientific method can be followed by anyone, whether they are a scientist or not.

James Randi and his million dollar challenge came up several times. The Amazing Randi isn’t offering a million dollars just for proof of the supernatural, he’s offering a million dollars for reproducible proof. Since the phenomena in question cannot be reproduced at will, there is no way to make a claim for the million. Randi is a debunker, and he’s particularly vicious when he’s debunking. I wouldn’t volunteer to be subject to the type of ridicule that would follow such a claim, not for several million.

[the Wife’s father could witch water wells. All the farmers in the area swore by him. When his partner wanted a well dug, he refused to rely on that ‘water witch’ rubbish and hired an engineer to drill his well. Several thousand dollars and several hundred feet later, they hit some rather poor and slow running water that the engineers said was the best they could do. After a few months, he gave up and asked Dad to try a hand at finding better water, which he did. About 15 feet away and 30 feet down. Better water than Dad had on his property. I never saw this occur myself, and Dad has been gone several years now. I would have advised him not to try for the million.]

The problem with the supernatural or paranormal is that it doesn’t reproduce itself on demand so that peers can verify the existence of this or that phenomenon. Time and again as I watch Ghost Hunters or some other show dealing with these types of stories, I think to myself “well, that could have been faked” or “this is how that chair could have moved”.

It’s all too easy to be debunked, unless it happens to you.


In my years of service in the architectural field, I have spent innumerable nights in the office, working until late in the morning hours, most times all by myself. While I was generally downtown in some not-so-nice areas late at night, I was never really afraid. I’m not a large man, but I can run fast, and I do know some basic defense tactics.

When I took a job for a firm whose office was in one of the older buildings downtown, I never really thought much about the history of the place, or the particulars of it’s location, or what an impact that might have on my ability to work the late hours that are generally required of architects, but it had an impact none the less.

I was struck, at first, by how quaint the structure was. Nestled against the side of an old quarry, it was backed by an old carriage house that had been renovated into offices as well. After a few weeks of work I settled into my usual routine of staying late and cranking out the work after everyone else left. Gradually I noticed that everyone else tended to leave earlier than usual in the evening; earlier than usual for an architectural office.

After a week or so, I noticed that the place started to feel less quaint, and more threatening, especially at night. I kept hearing people walking, when I knew I was alone in the building. It really started to get weird though, after I traded places with another architect. She wanted to move to the tiny little cramped cubicle that I was in, and was willing to give up a double sized cube space in order to do it. I thought it strange that she would want the cramped space I was in, but jumped at the chance to spread out a bit in a larger space.

Slowly, over the course of the next 12 months, a spiralling series of experiences convinced me that I was either loosing my mind, or that there was something wrong with my environment, something I could not explain.

I began to feel like someone was watching me. It wasn’t all the time, that I could have explained. Weirdly enough it was right about 7:30 pm, pretty much every night. I dismissed it at first as having my back to the floor entrance (a dog-leg stair from the upper floor) but I could not figure out why it didn’t bother me until evening time.

There were windows all around, but it didn’t feel like there was anybody outside. No matter how many times I looked, I never did catch anyone peeping through the windows. Peeping would have been hard anyway. Technically we were on the second floor above the quarry floor, but the front entrance was on the floor above and opened onto the original street that bordered the quarry. The window in my cube tended not to reflect any light off of it, almost like it opened onto nothing (the opposing building wall that was no more than 10 feet away always seemed invisible at night) which was a bit disturbing on its own.

I can’t tell you the number of times I heard footsteps on the upper floor, or walking down the stairs, only to investigate and find no one there. Once, with another architect present, we listened as footsteps appeared to walk the length of the upper floor and go right through a wall on their way out to the street.

Then there was the crowding and the touching. I kept feeling someone leaning over the back of my chair, pushing me into the desk. I kept having to consciously push myself away from the keyboard so that my arms would quit cramping. Something kept touching me on the neck, like fingers brushing across my skin.

It got to the point that I would leave as soon as the eyes started watching at 7:30. If I didn’t leave then, and stayed until the presence was in the cube with me, then when I attempted to leave I would feel as if I was being pursued. All the lights on in a clearly vacant room, and I’m terrified that there is someone who intends me harm, right behind me. Try as I might, I could not shake the feeling.

It was all I could do to make myself walk calmly up the stairs and let myself out. There was frequently an inexplicable cold spot at the top of the stairs, where the warmest air in the building should have been. As soon as I had exited the building, the feeling went away. I’m standing on a dark street, next to a vacant lot that is several feet deep in overgrowth; a place where the homeless were known to congregate, and I feel safer there than in the building.

I began to feel like there were two buildings in the same place at night. One was finished in the clear varnished oak and carpet that I was familiar with; the other was painted dark, cut into small rooms with old fashioned panel doors. Dingy little apartments. I can’t explain why I began to see this juxtaposition in space, I can only say that I did.

Once, when I heard a loud thump on the floor behind me, I spun around to find, just for a second, someone or something standing behind me. There and then gone again. I caught the same figure out of the corner of my eye a few more times after that. Ragged coat. Hat pulled low. Dirty worn out boots. Watching a door in the dark hallway. Waiting for someone. Waiting for someone with violence in his heart.

I wish I could write a fitting climax to the story, but I can’t. I was let go from the firm not too long after that time, and I haven’t had any urge to go back.

I would say that this was “the god’s honest truth”, but I don’t believe in god. It is the truth, exactly as I remember it. I didn’t believe in ghosts. I don’t know what I believe now, but I know that I can’t explain what happened in that building in the evenings. I just know that I wouldn’t stay late at work in that place again, not even if you paid me.


Mea culpa review, 2017.

I rewrote a part of this in a 2014 piece titled Paranormal? Ghosts? I realize going back through these posts that I never updated this one with a Big Bowl of Crow reference or even append my current thoughts on the subject of the paranormal,

As an example, the Wife’s father could witch water wells. All the farmers in the area aside from his farming partner swore by him. Now, this man was no ignorant Oklahoma farmer. He was a college educated man who served his country in the secret service during WWII. He worked as an extension agent later in life, teaching other farmers in the area how to make their farms produce.  He just also happened to be a water witch. When his farming partner wanted a well dug he refused to rely on that water witch‘ rubbish and hired an engineer to drill his well. Several thousand dollars and several hundred feet later, they hit some rather poor and slow running water that the engineers said was the best they could do. After a few months, the man gave up and asked my father in law to try a hand at finding better water, which he did. About 15 feet away and 30 feet down. Better water than could be found on my father-in-law’s own property. I never saw this occur myself, and Dad has been gone several years now, so I have no way of testing the veracity of his claims, and I remain unconvinced that the ideomotor effect is a sufficient explanation for experiences like his.

Most ghost experiences are actually quite normal.  There are documented physical properties of sleeping that lend themselves to the idea of abduction (Sleep Paralysis for one) or can lead you to believe that you see people who aren’t there just as you begin to fall asleep, or immediately upon waking (I have a recurring nightmare lately where I see light patterns that remind me of Threshold. I have no idea why.  They persist into wakefulness, and have to be actively brushed away in order for me to quit seeing them) I’ve had both experiences several times, myself. Once you understand what causes them, they become far less frightening.

The problem with the supernatural or paranormal is that it doesn’t reproduce itself on demand so that your peers can verify the existence of this or that phenomenon. Time and again as I watch some show dealing with these types of stories, I think to myself “well, that could have been faked” or “this is how that chair could have moved”. It’s all too easy to be debunked, unless it happens to you; and once it happens, you cannot simply dismiss the very real emotions that the experience generates.  You want the phenomena to be true, as in accepted by your peers as true. Unfortunately no one can understand what it is you experienced, no matter how much they may want to. Experiences like the one I’m about to relate aren’t easy to quantify, to set down in words with meanings others can understand in the way we mean. For myself, I’m left grasping at straws for explanations of things I only imperfectly remember even the next day. 

Most of my desire to see something proved on the paranormal front has evaporated with time.  The most likely explanation is that perceptions in these areas are simply flawed, and we tend to believe what our senses tell us even when they are wrong. The problem remains distinguishing between the flaws and the real. Not nearly as easy as debunkers think it is. 

Trick or Treat!

It’s the boy’s day today. Don’t expect too much out of me.


Spent the night reminding the children I was shepherding that they had to say “Trick or Treat” if they wanted a treat. While doing this I stumbled across more than a few houses with front porch lights on, and nobody home to answer the door.

Back in the day, we would have taken that as an invitation to be tricked; a job that we came equipped to do, on a general basis. Wax or soap for the windows. Toilet paper for the trees. Some of the more vicious pranks (which I never pulled myself) involved bags of dogshit being lit on fire on porches, for the owners to find and attempt to stomp out.

My uncle told me stories of a life size dummy that he created, and used as a prank for many years. Dropping it out of trees in front of pedestrians (the best ones were generally carrying groceries. The resultant explosion of foodstuffs when the bags were hurled into the air were always good for a laugh) dragged behind his car, or propped up in door ways to fall in on the homeowner when they answered the door.

Life was more fun then.

I was contemplating this when I came across one home with all the exterior lights on and a large notice pinned to the door:

“We do not celebrate Halloween, and we do not have any candy. Do not ring our doorbell.”

On the one hand I thought Idiot, just leave your lights off; but on the other I was contemplating the reaction that would have occured had previous rules of conduct concerning Halloween been inflicted upon them.

Next year I’m going to make up signs of my own, to pin to the doors of the spoil sports who leave their lights on when they have no intention to participate in festivities.

Attention: This is your Trick for failure to Treat.
Consider yourself properly TP’d and your windows soaped.
And…
You are standing in a burning bag of dogshit.

Happy Halloween!

Probably get myself thrown in jail. Terroristic threats or something, I’m sure. It’s all in the name of good fun, right?

Polling Point – More Point Than Poll

Got an invite to do a Polling Point poll again a few days ago. This one, while more in depth than most, was still as infantile as most of the previous ones have been. So I decided to wax poetic in the “what can we do to improve this poll” dialog box.


Political views cannot be accurately expressed on a left-right line. It is a basic mathematical principle that it takes (at least) two bits of data to place something on a graphical scale. The only logical political scale that has ever been created is this one: World’s Smallest Political Quiz

Additionally, there are far more than two candidates for the office of governor in Texas. There are at least 5, including two independents and a Libertarian. Everyone even slightly tuned into the news knows this. There are three candidates for house district 25, as even the Wiki shows http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas’s_25th_congressional_district.

I have grave doubts as to the nature of this poll, and strongly suspect (as I have for many other Polling Point polls) that the questions are weighted in an attempt to skew the results.

When I responded to the question of party affiliation that I was “Other:Libertarian” I was presented with two pages of wheedling, a transparent attempt to skew my views into one of the left-right camps. I am in neither camp, I am a libertarian; a free-thinking, tax hating, liberty loving individual; and I resent the juvenile approach to politics that insists there is only one right answer to a problem, and two parties are enough to cover all answers.

If you can’t construct polls that attempt to take all views into account, then you devalue the worth of your own polls. It only makes good business sense, from a pollster’s standpoint, to create the most unbiased polls possible.

That would be an unprecedented improvement in my history of taking polls at Polling Point.


2017; There is a game theory explanation as to why any choices other than the top two are irrelevant in standard plurality voting methods; but addressing that here would just be clouding the legitimate complaint as to why the polls would not include minority view candidates. 

Cheapskate Technical Woes

So I’m helping The Wife tonight. She’s trying to get some customer’s computer systems out the door. One of the systems is being extra problematic; an archaic old system that is older than The Son (he’s 8) running Windows 98 (not even SE) IE 4.0; and, no lie, a flat panel monitor.

[It’s like buying a new wagon for the dead mule to pull. But what do I know?]

Microsoft is no help, you can’t even get on their site with IE 4.0 these days.

Firefox says it will run, but after bashing our heads against the error “oleaut32.dll:77” I ran a Google search and came up with this:

http://www.faqts.com/knowledge_base/view.phtml/aid/15670

The problem indicates you do not have the complete OLEAUT32.dll file –
either you’re running Windows 95 or an older version of Windows98. Go
to Microsoft’s website and download the DCOM upgrade package depending
on the version of Windows you have got (alternatively just search for
DCOM on Google or something) – the current link that I have is
http://www.microsoft.com/com/resources/downloads.asp

Once you have run this update, this will update your OLEAUT32 dll for
you, and php should run without the error.

Having nothing else to loose, we installed the Dcom update and were finally sucessfull running Firefox 2.0; which allowed us to access the Windows update site and install the remainder of the Win98 patches, including IE 6. Problem solved, out the door it goes.

Never mind the system is worth less than the time we spent fixing it. Ah, the sweet taste of victory.

Is it a Cult, or Just the Average Family?

The following article was cited as an authority for determining if the group you are thinking about joining is a cult or not.

THE PURPOSES AND TACTICS OF COERCIVE PERSUASION

FWIW, any group organized around an idea can be labeled a cult. Libertarianism, Real Money, Environmentalism, etc. Someone quite rightly labeled the board this was posted on as a cult. I just used FWIW (For What It’s Worth) a type of special language developed for conversations with ‘those in the know’, a telltale sign of ‘cult like’ behavior.

But are they cults? Cults are damaging to the individual, warping their individual will and stealing their wealth. People damage their lives spending too much time on the ‘net, too much time volunteering for political efforts, etc. Is it really any different?

I don’t like the term ‘cult’. It’s one of the words that gets applied simply to discredit an organization, prior to attempting to dismember it from the outside. Where does freedom of association fit into that sort of scenario?

With tongue firmly implanted in cheek, let’s look at another ‘cult’ that is prevalent in society. The cult of Family.

TACTIC 1. The individual is prepared for thought reform through increased suggestibility and/or “softening up,” specifically through hypnotic or other suggestibility-increasing techniques such as: A. Extended audio, visual, verbal, or tactile fixation drills; B. Excessive exact repetition of routine activities; C. Decreased sleep; D. Nutritional restriction.

New parents are subject to extreme sleep deprivation and nutritional restriction, and new routines are introduced and repeated frequently. Feeding times for a new baby occur every few hours for several months, interrupting all normal patterns of life previously known including sleeping and eating. Feeding, burping, diaper changing, etc. are all new routines which, while simple and easy to learn, must be repeated when the audio fixation drill (crying) occurs.

TACTIC 2. Using rewards and punishments, efforts are made to establish considerable control over a person’s social environment, time, and sources of social support. Social isolation is promoted. Contact with family and friends is abridged, as is contact with persons who do not share group-approved attitudes. Economic and other dependence on the group is fostered. (In the forerunner to coercive persuasion, brainwashing, this was rather easy to achieve through simple imprisonment.)

New parents are frequently trapped in their own homes for months at a time, with only the new cult member for company. Former family members are excluded in favor of the new family member. Any former friends without children find themselves unable to connect to the new parent due to unfamiliarity with the new group attitude.

TACTIC 3. Disconfirming information and nonsupporting opinions are prohibited in group communication. Rules exist about permissible topics to discuss with outsiders. Communication is highly controlled. An “in-group” language is usually constructed.

A child so ugly you’d have to hang a steak around his neck to get the dog to play with him, will always be described as a “beautiful baby” in the presence of the new parent. Every new cult member (hereinafter referred to as ‘the child’) is a genius according to the parent, even if the child attempts to eat every object that he can get his hands on.

As for an in-group language, does the phrase ‘baby talk’ mean anything to you?

TACTIC 4. Frequent and intense attempts are made to cause a person to re-evaluate the most central aspects of his or her experience of self and prior conduct in negative ways. Efforts are designed to destabilize and undermine the subject’s basic consciousness, reality awareness, world view, emotional control, and defense mechanisms as well as getting them to reinterpret their life’s history, and adopt a new version of causality.

Every confrontation with the child causes the new parent to reflect on interactions with their parents, and to inevitably fail in comparison. Everything in the parents world is reoriented on the child and his safety, there is no other valid concern in existence. A parent can frequently be found hovering near windows and doors that provide a view of the child at sleep or at play, so strong is the concern for safety even in a house and yard known to be without serious threat.

This is caused by the fact that the genius child will attempt to eat anything he finds, and many things which the parent did not perceive as a threat previously, are in fact deadly when swallowed.

There is no life before children, once you have had children. Don’t believe me? Try to remember a time without them. If you don’t have children, ask the parent sitting next to you to remember.

TACTIC 5. Intense and frequent attempts are made to undermine a person’s confidence in himself and his judgment, creating a sense of powerlessness.

If the average parent was paid a nickel for every time they heard “but Johnny’s parents let him do it”, there wouldn’t be a need for social security. All grandparents would be rich people. This is not to mention the tantrums, the wheedling and cajoling that goes on in addition to the citations of the superiority of other children’s parents.

When the attempts to undermine the parents judgment meet with failure, disobedience on the subject simply underlines the powerlessness of the parent.

TACTIC 6. Nonphysical punishments are used such as intense humiliation, loss of privilege, social isolation, social status changes, intense guilt, anxiety, manipulation and other techniques for creating strong aversive emotional arousals, etc.

You have no clue what humiliation is until your child is dusting the supermarket floor with his backside in a screaming fit because you won’t get him the cereal he wants.

This tactic is, in essence, the same as tactic two. Imprisonment could be considered a holiday compared to colic and 4 am feedings. Social isolation and status changes? Gimme a break.

TACTIC 7. Certain secular psychological threats [force] are used or are present: That failure to adopt the approved attitude, belief, or consequent behavior will lead to severe punishment or dire consequence, (e.g. physical or mental illness, the reappearance of a prior physical illness, drug dependence, economic collapse, social failure, divorce, disintegration, failure to find a mate, etc.).

Fail to do your part with the child, and the other parent will make you wish you had a drug dependency to fall back on as a crutch. All of the listed consequences can and will be used as threats by either parent to ensure the continued support of the child.

Additionally, the cult is perpetuated by the parent insisting on the need for grandchildren, which must be provided by the child as soon as it is of age to have children of it’s own. All of the above tactics will be applied to the child in turn in order to ensure that the cult of family continues into the next generation.


Editor’s note: 2017. I hate this entire flippant fucking post. If I hadn’t made a pact with myself not to delete shit off this fucking blog this would be fucking gone in an instant. I wrote it and I can’t even bring myself to read all the way through it. Chirpy, stupid, juvenile, simplistic, saccharine bullshit.

I think that pretty much covers it. I could go on and tell my old self just what I really think; you know, just not pull any punches, but I’m going to do this instead,

Polygamy was the norm in Carolyn Jessop’s life. After all, her own father had three wives by the time she was in fourth grade. Her family was part of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), a radical offshoot of the Mormon Church. But Jessop’s own experience in the cult was so disturbing that she ran away with her eight children four years ago. Last month, the FLDS was in the news when its leader, Warren Jeffs, was found guilty of being an accessory to rape for forcing a 14-year-old girl in the group to marry her 19-year-old cousin. Jessop, 38, tells her extraordinary story in a riveting new book, Escape  

Time, Polygamy Survivor Carolyn Jessop 

 Here’s another one,

As O’Shea tells it, Jones’s idealism was a large part of what made him so lethal. He tapped into the zeitgeist of the late 1960s and 1970s, feeding on people’s fears and promising to create a “rainbow family” where everyone would truly be equal. He was charismatic enough to lure hundreds of people to a South American jungle, where he cut off all their ties with the outside world.

The Atlantic, Drinking the Kool-Aid: A Survivor Remembers Jim Jones

Another one,

If you have not heard of the Quiverfull movement, I’ll sum it up by saying that Quiverfull is an all-encompassing vision of a big, happy, godly family which affects every aspect of a so-called True Believer’s life. Probably the most recognizable Quiverfull family in America is reality TV’s Duggar family of 19 Kids and Counting fame.

You’ll find Quiverfull families in nearly all types of churches in every community. Quiverfull is simply the “pro-life” idea that truly godly families will “trust the Lord” with their family planning. Children are viewed as unmitigated blessings (“As arrows in the hand of the mighty man, so are the children of ones youth, happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them:” Psalm 123), so couples are willing to have as many children as the Lord chooses. All methods of conception control are considered a lack of trust in God to provide for the “children of the righteous.”

At the heart of Quiverfull is patriarchy: the ideal of biblical headship and submission. This is the belief that by God’s perfect design, the father is the head of the home. The father serves as protector, provider and shepherd for his wife and children. He is primarily responsible for the wife’s and children’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being and with such responsibility comes the (divinely granted) commensurate authority over the members of his household. According to this view, God works through the father and he serves as an intermediary for his wife and children. Honor, obedience and submission are highly valued qualities because they are necessary to maintain order and work together to accomplish the Lord’s vision for a godly family.

This emphasis on patriarchy guarantees that, to the degree in which a Christian family puts Quiverfull ideals into practice, the family is living a dysfunctional relationship dynamic which necessarily involves mental, emotional and spiritual abuse.

This was my life for over 16 years. Shunning birth control resulted in seven children, who we homeschooled and sheltered from “godless society.” But these days, I think Christian fundamentalism is just as bizarre as you do. After deconverting, I started a blog, No Longer Quivering, as a way to process my Quiverfull life and try to understand how I’d come to embrace such a fanatical lifestyle. Over time, NLQ has grown into a movement of women escaping and healing from spiritual abuse. I’ve met many people whose lives and families have been devastated by this ideology, and the stories they tell are heartbreaking.

RawStory, Vyckie Garrison, How I spent 16 years in an abusive, conservative Christian cult — and finally escaped

You may well ask at this point, how many of these will you be posting examples from? I’m asking the same thing myself right now. I’m thinking, until I feel the guilt from ever having written this piece is at least evenly leavened. Given my tendency to self-abuse, that might be a good long while.

I’ll let some unrepentant cult members have a say. They are unrepentant because they committed mass suicide together in 1997, believing that their essences would be captured by a spacecraft hidden in the tail of the comet Hale–Bopp,

H/T to Sam Harris’ Waking Up podcast ep. #7 for the link to this video.

I remember when this happened pretty vividly, pretty much the same way I thought I remembered the events in Jonestown, Guyana. Thought I remembered them and still wrote this stupid fucking article.

The most damning thing about this particular post is this; I wrote it at the time with the knowledge that the circles I was moving in were highly correlated with all the warning signs of cult behavior, and I refused to acknowledge it. I did not want my beliefs to be challenged. I wanted so fervently to be proven right about everything libertarians had been saying since libertarianism was founded in the 70’s. But most of it is bullshit, has always been bullshit.

The parts that aren’t bullshit? They are irrelevant due to the nature of power and the political systems none of us like but are stuck with anyway. If only we could agree on where to go from where we are now, we could fix most of the broken shit in the current system tomorrow. Too bad everyone is too busy screaming with their ears plugged to notice that no one is listening anymore.

But the harder subject to broach is, the subject of dysfunctional families and their effect on the children of those families. Dysfunctional families like my family was. Mercifully our family never included the sexual side of abusive relationships, but pretty much everything short of that were things that simply did not work in my family when I was growing up. The fact that my family experiences were so bad combined with the fact that the philosophy and politics I had adopted were deeply delusional made for a perfect storm of bad information that made me believe that making fun of mental health workers trying to deal with real trauma would be amusing to anyone else aside from me. For that I do sincerely apologize. 

Nathon Fillion on Lost

Nathon Fillion (Mal on Firefly) will appear in the November 8th Episode of Lost, if rumors are to be believed.

I have to say that this season (third season) of Lost has definately got me more on edge early on than last season did. I’m wondering if they can keep up the tension. The only way I’ll find out is if I keep watching, I guess.

Steele Penny Pub & Los Lonely Boys

This is a blog entry I’ve been threatening my brother with for a long time. I just can’t put it off any longer though, not with The Stones playing in town tonight; and opening for The Stones (perhaps the oldest and still most popular rock band actively touring these days) one of the newest bands to hit the charts, Los Lonely Boys.

Last week they were featured at Austin City Limits Festival, and this week they are opening for The Stones. They’ve hit the big time, these three guys from San Angelo, thanks in no small part to my brother.

Why my brother? Let me tell you a story…

There was a little place in San Angelo called the Steel Penny Pub, one of the few places in that town where you could go to get good cold beer and great live music. My brother opened the venue with the intention of creating a place for his band Hazytrane to play, only to discover that the demands of owning a business took up too much time for him to continue pursuing his own musical career. Not too long after starting the Pub, his band folded up and went their separate ways. The lead guitarist became a lawyer. I still can’t wrap my head around that transition.

What he did instead of featuring his own band was to look around for another house band to fill the void that was left where his band used to be. What he found was Los Lonely Boys. Even though (as this article notes) they were underage at the time, Russ gave the boys the job, and they honed their already impressive skills playing several nights a week at the pub.

I would really like to say “I heard Los Lonely Boys at the Steel Penny Pub” but I was a professional architect working in another town, and I didn’t have time to fool around with music in those days. Somehow I managed to miss all of their performances there. Luckily for them, Willie Nelson didn’t. While in town for a show of his own, Willie stopped by the Pub and heard Los Lonely Boys for the first time, and recognized their talent right away. Within a few months they were playing at festivals and concerts alongside Willie Nelson, and not too long after that their first album debuted.

…And the rest is history. Heaven (not my favorite song on the album, but definitely a very catchy tune) reached the top ten, and stayed there for 18 weeks. My brother handed over management of the Pub to his business partner, and went on the road with Los Lonely Boys as their road manager for nearly two years. It was quite a ride.

I finally got to see & hear Los Lonely Boys play at Antones here in Austin, early in their first tour. I’ve never seen anybody play guitar like these guys can. If you get a chance to see them live, you’ll kick yourself later if you don’t take the time to go see them play. Live is the way to experience most music; and live is without a doubt the best way to experience Los Lonely Boys music. You just won’t know what it’s really like until then.

The last time I saw them was in the largest ever attending crowd (30,00 plus) for the Town Lake summer concert, which they turned into a concert video. And now they are opening for The Stones tonight. I know where my brother is going to be. Wouldn’t mind being in his shoes tonight, not one bit.

Austin Film Festival

It’s that time of year again. Time for the Austin Film Festival. I’ve been to a few of these things in the past, but I’ve never been approached before with an offer of free tickets to some of the films. This year, thanks to Christopher Holland over at AFF, I hooked up with some of the members of Austin SF, and we went on a movie watching spree.

Both of the films that I saw today were of excellent quality.

The first, Run Robot Run, was a rather humorous look at the future and what might happen if a robot replaced you. Replaces you personally. Takes your job, your love interest, everything that gives your life meaning. What would you do to get it back?

There was an irreverent feel to the film that reminded me a bit of Office Space, but was at the same time quite different.

The second, A Lobster Tale (starring Colm Meany) was a drama exploring the relationships of a Maine lobster fisherman and his wife and young son, and what changes occur in their lives when they are visited by a miracle. Also starring Graeme Greene as the town sheriff.

I was quite impressed with Jack Knight who was cast as the son in the film. If I’m not mistaken, we will be seeing a lot more of this actor as the years progress. He carried most of the emotional baggage of the film, and he did it masterfully.

I really liked both films, and would recommend them to anyone who felt they might be interested in seeing them. Both films will be showing again later in the week. Catch them, or one of the many other films hosted by the AFF, if you have the time.

If I had been paying better attention, I might have gotten a badge for the entire event. Then I wouldn’t have missed the director’s cut of Payback – Straight Up. I would call this a ‘guilty pleasure’ film (because there is nothing redeeming about any of the characters in the film; but you seem to enjoy watching them anyway) and a ‘black comedy’ as it was originally released. I have no idea what it will look like restored to the director’s original intent. But I will probably have to check it out.

I’m definitely going to have to remember to mark my calendars for the event next year.

Free Night of Theater – It Runs in the Family

I’m putting in a plug for this site http://www.freenightoftheater.net and this specific performance; It Runs in the Family as presented by the Oracle Theatre Company at Dougherty Arts Center.

I was quite impressed with both the performance, and the fact that I was able to get tickets to the event simply by reserving them online, for free. If your city is one of the lucky few listed, you too might be able to experience some culture without a major investment of capitol.

The play It Runs in the Family was quite funny, and the cast was excellent. I laughed my way through most of it. Catch it if you get a chance.

Legal Battles and the People Who Fight Them

On the subject of the current challenge facing the Liberty Dollar, I agree with the sentiment of a recent poster to ALD-forum who said:

Its obvious that someone has to volunteer to become the legal guinea
pig and stage an official drop with media present, challenging the
government to arrest and charge. When nobody shows up to arrest, the
media can call bullshit on the Mint’s claims. If they do arrest, we’ll
have a legal circus to promote the LD, with an eventual aquittal that
will be even more powerful.

Someone willing and able to fight that battle is probably going to have to take it to court in order to remove the threat that the US mint has left hanging over our heads (‘our’ being ALD users) although the mint might buckle under public pressure if the latest strategy from NORFED is picked up by enough people. That remains to be seen.

But then he goes on to add this little proviso:

This is how all big legal cases are set up. Rosa Parks was not just
some black lady on a bus, that event was entirely staged to trigger a
legal case by the socialist group she belonged to. Same with Roe v
Wade.

There is no need to besmirch good causes with epithets like ‘socialist’ (and when an individualist uses the term ‘socialist’ as an adjective, it is always an epithet, an insult. Be advised of that) If you go looking for info on Rosa Parks, or Roe vs. Wade, the purported linkage between these groups and the individuals who originally took the action are not immediately apparent.

What is apparent is the need for someone who disagrees with another person’s percieved agenda, having to take shots at them by alluding to connections that may or may not exist. They attempt to cheapen the success of the previous litigation, by leveling accusations against the people who have tried this same route in the past.

So let me ask the question again, but ask the real question; Wasn’t ending the Jim Crow laws a good cause? Wasn’t establishing a right to privacy a good cause? Of what concern are the allegiances of the players in the here and now? Does that change the value of the outcome?


Some of the peanut gallery piped up with examples of other gov’ts giving tax dollars to non-entities…

[a Person Unborn has the right to have his or her interests represented in Her Majesty’s Courts, as well as the Federal Court of Canada. Six other provincial statutes categorically mention the rights of Persons Unborn in British Columbia. One of the most telling being the Worker’s Compensation Act RSBC whereby BC pays money to a child unborn, on equal terms with his born siblings.

Thus, the child ‘en ventre sa mere’ meets the test for Personhood, via his Estate, he can do and own / he or she ( or the twins etc. ) is liable for income tax !]

As some sort of proof that the unborn (getting off in an abortion argument. Been there, done that) are persons. that gov’ts recognize the unborn as a person is hardly ground-breaking. The US recognizes corporations as persons, and they have no physical body or brain function (one might even go so far as to say none of the members of the average corporate board display any brain function) It really proves nothing.

Autonomic reflexes are not consciousness (a la Terri Schiavo) and normal human brain patterns are quite distinct; the absence of them being the deciding factor in declaring someone ‘dead’; can you be alive without them? Can you have consciousness and motive will without them?

The answer is ‘no’.


Additionally, let’s say that it can be successfully litigated that ALD as a competing currency is not illegal under US law (which, IMHO, is a correct decision) will our opponents label it as “Libertarian/extreme right wing/etc.” and attempt to discredit and overturn it based on that observation?

If the We the People foundation are successful in making the gov’t answer it’s petition (the right to petition that is specifically mentioned in the First Amendment to the Constitution) through a litigative process, are tax cheats irresponsibly crippling the gov’t?

Will these observations change what’s good about the decisions?