Friday, March 30, 2012

This is what I think about while canoeing though a cypress forest in Mississippi.

I believe: An exposition on, “Do whatever you want, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else."

1) Actions that negatively impact others are not the right of any individual to exercise.

2) It is not your right to cause another individual or group to feel pain, fear, or lack of safety, either physical or emotional.

3) If you are physically and/or mentally able, it is not your right to require any other individual or group to support your basic needs for food, water, and shelter.

It is your right to choose to help others. If you are not the cause of their pain or need, no other can force you to give of yourself or the things you have earned. While it may be logically to your benefit to help your neighbors, an investment on your own future needs or safety, to require this of you would be an infringement on your right by someone else.

It is your right to kill yourself, if you have no obligations to others. If you have children who still require your care, or have engaged in a social contract that you have benefitted from and have not fulfilled your obligation to, it is an infringement of the first principle to prematurely end your life. Situations where this is possible without breaking the second principle are not common.

It is your right to leave love unrequited. This right is contingent on there having been no direct action that can be understood as a social contract with unfulfilled obligations.

You have the right to refuse charity from, or for, others.

If you violate the first principle, your right to the same principle in relation to all other individuals and groups is forfeit. While no action to restrict you is required from any group or individual, it is within the rights of any person or group to act against you as a cancerous presence that has rejected the basic principles of humanity.

Note the above principles apply to individuals and groups of individuals. A corporation, or other business or government body, does not escape the requirements of following these principles.

What would this mean for war? Never warranted.

For taxation? Opt-in only. However, if you choose not to pay a road tax, prepare to never, ever use the roads.

For inheritance? The restriction on exploiting others, and receiving profits that are commensurate with the investment made, will go a long way to restricting excessive wealth consolidation.

For national borders? Valuable civic organizational tools, with adherence to the above rights, monetary policy, fair trade, border disputes, etc. will be largely mitigated.

For healthcare? See investment-based profits versus monopoly/value based margins, explored in more detail below.

For standing armies? Optional, for the sole purpose of removing individuals or groups that actively infringe on others’ rights.

For standing police forces? Effectively this and the standing army would serve the same purpose.

Abortion? Restricting another’s ability to make this choice is an infringement on their rights. No individual has the right to dictate this option, in the positive or the negative, to another individual. However, at what age does a child have the same rights, where an abortion would be an infringement on their rights?

Religion? No crusades, no holy wars. If spread through peace and example, if engaged in by consenting adults, great. If there are individuals with hate-filled signs outside of a funeral, that is an infringement on others’ rights.

Garbage removal, city/town plumbing and waste disposal infrastructure, water infrastructure, roads, street lights, etc. would be mutually beneficial and largely unchanged.

Profits: from all businesses, money lending, capital investing, farming, energy sources, retail of all needs and luxuries, would be severely changed. The above principles do not support the gouging of consumers or citizens for the disproportional benefit of a minority.

Wars of conquest are unacceptable. Wars of dominance are unacceptable. Purging of individuals or groups of individuals who are not adhering to the principles of humanity… this is a right of any individual or group to enforce.

But it is not a duty. Individuals or groups may be designated, as long as their rights are not infringed, to act out this purging.

Who determines when an individual or group is infringing on someone’s rights?

If each individual exercises their rights, those that band together for mutual risk mitigation will thrive. While charity is not required of any individual, it is an intelligent investment towards future needs The recipients of charity enter into a social contract to repay, if not to the individual, then to the pool of humanity at a later date, if and when thy are able. Likewise enforcement of these principles is not a requirement of any individual, but is an intelligent investment for the future.

Is this communism? No. If an individual wishes to work harder, longer, more productively than others, they will reap the benefits of those efforts. No individual is required to share/give of their work product to others against their will.

Lives of different economic standing are natural, based on the varying desires and efforts of each individual. The principles require those with less money have the same rights as those with more. Abuse, theft, exploitation, all of these are violations of the basic principles.

Is this socialism? No. There is no requirement that any individual care for their neighbor, give to charity, or provide of their own earnings to those who have chosen not to, or are unable to, provide for themselves. The basic rights of the individual, combined with basic risk mitigation for the future, or compassion, may result in social programs, charity, etc., but it is not a structure or requirement that should be imposed on anyone.

Could this result in walled cities of the wealthy? Possibly. There is no restriction on an individual or a group’s right to remove themselves from the larger collection of humanity, as long as doing so does not actively harm others.

What does this mean for patent law, or the hoarding of ideas/technology? Refer to the derivative principle that return on effort and investment should be commensurate with the effort invested. If an individual or community invests significant time/resources to develop a new energy source, they should collect profits in line with the amount of effort invested. This is certainly a difficult balance, as the rights of the owner/inventor/investor must be preserved, without infringing on the rights of all others. For example medicine should not be withheld, as this would actively harm others, but a fair social contract from the recipient to the supplier must be maintained, before or following the delivery of the medicine.

If an individual or group has a brilliant idea, regardless of the scope of it’s impact, the return should be commensurate with the effort/investment, not the value of the idea. If an individual is gifted with a brilliant idea, with no time or study invested, the profit on that idea should reflect the investment. If an individual or community invests time and resources to support contemplation, study, experimentation, etc., then the resulting idea will have a larger investment to compensate for.

Yes, honesty is obviously a foundational requirement.

Could this result in walled cities of the wealthy, situated around a valuable commodity, such as a spring? Again, possibly, as long as access to the spring or other commodity is not restricted to the infringement of other’s rights. For example, if the spring requires maintenance, efforts to reach and pipe to a convenient location, etc., it is within the rights of the community to require fair compensation.

What is the fair result if a small community with a water resource finds itself host to a traveling group that is far larger, and whose needs will deplete the water resource below sustainable levels? Charity is not required of the community, but withholding available surplus would be an infringement on the rights of the travelers, who shall come to no harm by another’s direct action, ie. withholding water.

Taken to the limit, at some point the price of the remaining water will reach the life of the individual or the community, at which time the travelers may have no ability to pay something of commensurate value. This situation may be impacted by compassion, or other emotional contributors, but at no time does either party have the right to force action on the other. The travelers do not have the right to make their needs, based on poor luck, poor planning, etc., the needs of the community.

Slavery would not be acceptable, however the exchange of labor and service for room/board/security, if satisfying to both parties, would be fine. Likewise bedroom behavior of any sort between consenting adults, drug use, excess or deprivation of any sort, are perfectly acceptable. As long as the actions of the individuals engaged in the above practices do not harm non-consenting parties, any effort to restrict these actions becomes a restriction on those individuals’ rights.

From this cursory look, this basic set of rights could correct a lot of the social and species issues we face.

How do we make this happen, ie. overcome the basic greedy/aggressive/oppressive nature of human beings?

On Gambling:

Gamble because you love risk. Gamble because you hope, against hope that you ill get something much greater than you deserve for the amount of effort/money invested. Gamble because you are compulsive, because you are addicted, because you are bored.

Gamble because you have money that you earn through hard work, and risking it makes you feel in control. Gamble because you have money that you did not earn, and this is an easy opportunity to gain ownership over the winnings, or revenge against the lost money that you did not earn. Gamble because you need money, more than you have, and a risk of success is better than guaranteed falling short.

Gamble because it’s fun.

For any of these reasons, with gambling as entertainment being the best point on the spectrum of societal ills that it can claim, gambling is a symptom. Making the practice illegal, regulating it to mitigate the operator’s earnings and limit the risk to pure-odds with minimal operational costs, or removing the true risk and replacing the wagered items with things of low to no value, the unhealthy reasons for participating in gambling have not been corrected, or safely satiated.

Why do people believe in and pursue unwarranted/unearned reward?

Why do people need to risk?

What must be lacking, or in abundance, to drive people towards this form of damaging entertainment?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Unscheduled, unrestricted time...

Is a hard thing to adjust to. I figure it's been over 20 years since I had time like this.

Warning: Rabbit harvesting, with pictures

Repeat, this post will include pictures through the full process of harvesting rabbits, cooking, and eating them. Not for the squeamish.

We bought 4 rabbits last fall, 3 girls and 1 boy. They procreated. We harvested 8 a while back, and thought we had the population under control. Turns out we started with TWO boys, something that clicked when the second round of babies appeared, unplanned.

On Sunday the kids and I did another round of rabbit harvesting.
Before getting into the rabbit raising business, I read several books on the subject. Pound for pound rabbit is one of the most efficient meat sources out there for environmental impact, meat to grain return, etc. I still wasn't sure I wanted to kill them. I saw a minute long youtube video of an old french farmer, picking up a rabbit, karate chopping it on the back of the neck, and taking it in to his kitchen. I tried this, and it worked very well. A quick chop, hang then up, and remove the head with a single stroke from a sharp butcher knife, starting behind the ears.
Note the mobile butcher station. Very simple, a comfortable working height, easily hosed down. Skinning is very simple on a young rabbit, (4 month old is the youngest we harvest,) a bit more work on an older rabbit. The principle is the same, cut around each back ankle, and from the ankle to the tail. The skin can then be pulled down, inside out, over the full body of the rabbit, and with a sharp tug, it will come free of the two front feet. Even with a young rabbit, it takes a little leverage: if the rabbit is tied firmly by it's foot that may suffice, but it may come free. (I wrap the ankle in wire and twist-fasten the wire to the cross rope. Puncturing the foot, as I've seen others do, is more likely to pull through during the skinning process.) For an older/tougher rabbit, you may need to grip the midsection for additional leverage. This can cause feces/urine to come out of the rabbit and get on the meat, which should be avoided. You can mitigate this by starting the cleaning process with an incision starting below the tail, down to however far you have worked the fur, and removing the bladder.

The rest of the gutting process is simply continuing the cut from tail to neck, and the majority of the organs will fall out. The diaphram will need to be punctured to remove the lungs and heart, this can be done with your fingers or a knife. Feet are removed by cutting the tendons around the last leg joint and twisting off. Or, a pair of meat-sheers can be used to snip the ankle bones. Just make sure you remove any bone-shards this might produce.
Completed rabbit, waiting to be rinsed in a steel bowl. With this setup, I recommend completing the full process up to this point with each rabbit, rather than completing one step on all rabbits being harvested before moving on to the next step. Getting each rabbit to this point is simply an easier process to manage.
Pelts go into a bucket of cold water. I'm going to give tanning these a try at some point, right now I'm simply tossing them in ziplocks and freezing them until I have time to experiment. My kids are very comfortable with the concept of where their food comes from, by the by.

This was the first time I decided to cook a rabbit whole. I have been butchering them down to hind legs kept whole, all other meat stripped, herbed, and ground into sausage. This 4 month old was brined in a saltwater solution overnight in the fridge.

Then rubbed down with more salt, and fresh rosemary.

Coals hot on the right, rabbit set on the left, lid closed, and cooked at 350 to 400 for about an hour.
Turned and basted with butter every 10 minutes or so.

At the same time, fresh green beans, potato, butter, and rabbit sausage set in an aluminum foil package, and set directly over the hot coals. (Started about 40 minutes after the rabbit.)

After an hour or so. The veggies could have been taken off a little earlier.

It was delicious. Tender, light, salty, even the back legs melted in our mouths. Enjoyed with cold beer and fresh artichokes.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lying in bed early this morning with Alexe, (family day, we're all home all day,) she was listing everything that makes her feel rich. (We do a fair amount of listing around here.) It was fun to listen to: A house, garden, chickens, a porch to have breakfast on, her perfect car, (blue 84 merc wagon,) a wood stove, a claw foot tub, a nice bright kitchen... And two awesome kids.

They were watching Mr. Rogers, a show I never saw, but find the music wafting through the house very soothing, and don't feel bad about Annaliese going to his website and watching old shows first thing in the morning. On my way through the house to start making crepes, (rotating between nutella and maple syrup, they were amazing,) I saw Mr. Rogers using his imagination with a short piece of hose. Two minutes later the kids came racing to the kitchen and dragged me back to the living room to see he had donned a simple blue bath towel, and with that draped over his head and his piece of hose, he was playing as an elephant. Annaliese and Caspian were squealing with delight.

That paired with images of Mr. Rogers testifying in front of congress... Same thoughts about Dr. Seuss. Amazing people.

We've got another glorious day ahead of us, the sun is warm on my feet, a cool breeze is blowing, chickens are clucking right below the porch. The only chore we have for the day is thinning the rabbit herd. I thought I was about to get them under control, but Alexe discovered another 7 fresh babies, and the solo female that was in the running for dinner tonight has started making a fur-nest as well. Grrr. That means that even if we harvest 6 today, we will still have two mothers, four too young to harvest, seven newborns, and who knows how many on the way in the next litter. The of-age boy is on the list for today though, and I think we've learned a lesson and will be separating the kids from their mother earlier.

Annaliese and Caspian are now negotiating time allowances for how long they will allow the other to jump on their beds, with me not as mediator, more the negotiating table.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

First day of summer vacation.

That's what it feels like. Cool, bright sun, birds chirping outside the open windows.

The kids and I were lying in bed, listing what we love. We were making personal lists, and helping each other by adding to each other's lists.

Caspian ended with, "I love daddy more than worms."

Talk about a great start to everything.

Friday, March 23, 2012


As of 5 pm today, I am no longer working with FNC.

In 2011 we fulfilled our new year's resolution, to finish the projects that we had already started, and not pick up any new ones. We did not: have another child, move, buy any new real estate, start any new businesses, initiate any massive renovations, or change employment situations. We DID: get the grocery store on its feet, complete the renovation of 301 Main and rent out the remaining offices and storefront, and take a solid family vacation in August away from MS.

By the third week of 2012, I was antsy, by the beginning of February I was pulling out my hair without a new goal/project/life direction.

On the 13th of Feb. I resigned from my corporate job, and started dreaming of the next big thing. In the immediate term I expect to soak in my family, read a backlog of things I want to have in my head to chew on, and do various small projects without a single thought that is driven by needs and desires of employer/client/task that I am not invested in doing. It rained yesterday, and I am happily feeling and smelling the grass grow through my open window, anticipating zooming around on my mower with fresh new blades for the season. The kids' new life preservers have been bought and tested, and the canoe was out on Sunday for a test run.

We kicked the afternoon/evening off with the dedication of the blues marker for Casey Jones in downtown Water Valley. Tonight Bozart gallery is having another child-friendly art opening, featuring an artist I am very fond of; the last big art purchase I made before setting aside the day wage.

There are aspects of trepidation, even minutes after stepping out for the first time in my adult life. It's losing out to the excitement.

If I unabashedly claim one virtue for myself, it is the ability to execute. Show me a mountain, challenge me, and I will get to the top, without wasting any time.

The world has catered to this, presenting me with all sorts of amazing opportunities. I take them, but it is no credit to me that I am presented with the option. Alexe... fell into my lap. The kids... fell into my lap. Each job I have had since I was 14 was offered to me at an opportune time. The right education path, the right living circumstance, I certainly made the effort to get them when they were presented to me, but they first waived in front of my face, then I leapt.

This is my first leap into open space. And it feels absolutely right. I may be blindly relying on the universe to again present me with the next massive challenge, the one that I am willing to pour myself into, and feel that the end goal is enough to trade my limited timeline for. We'll see.

In the meantime I will be thinking about it hard. In between not thinking about anything serious, hard. Up to this point I feel I have appropriately applied myself to the tools required to be able to pounce and accomplish whatever comes next. Knowledge, experience, ethics, and most importantly a community of people with a diverse set of passions and abilities and exceptional drive.

The summer is mine and my family's. A week in the fall is for Burning Man and Nicholas. After that, I don't know, but I hope it's big, and challenging.

Cheers. If you have any ideas, for fun, business, or saving the world, feel free to share.

Some pictures of the blues marker dedication ceremony, or more appropriately, of the kids at the ceremony. Alexe is delivering BTC groceries. :)

(Caspian just walked in and explained the scratch on his face with an elaborate story about the bear in the woods who stopped the car and scratched his face with his claws.)

Picking the kids up this afternoon from the learning center. We still love how much time Caspian spends outside there, but as of Monday he will also be running with the parents from now on.

Annaliese and her best friend meet up at the dedication.

Caspian chilled with me for a while.
Kids listening to Scott Barretta, the host of Highway 61, playing various versions of Casey Jones songs.
Great turn out.

And Water Valley's new blues marker.
Canoeing on Sunday, my play mate.
We had some trouble getting the kids to stop rocking the boat.
Alexe and Annaliese are pulling the boat out of the water. Caspian, I kid you not, is directing them by waving the boat in.
My new office above the BTC. Reading/movie area in front of the mantle, my desk made from a sweet potato crate and 2" thick heart pine planks for work in the middle, and the kids have their own arts/crafts/learning area. We built them a table and painted it together this week.