It’s against the law to do legal things

30 Oct

Like “structuring”.

In essence, doing something legal, but which is close to the limit at which doing that thing is illegal. And doing that too often. Because the government says so.

Free Library for the #UmbrellaRevolution

21 Oct

The Law frontispiece

The law perverted! The law—and, in its wake, all the collective forces of the nation—the law, I say, not only diverted from its proper direction, but made to pursue one entirely contrary! The law become the tool of every kind of avarice, instead of being its check! The law guilty of that very iniquity which it was its mission to punish! Truly, this is a serious fact, if it exists, and one to which I feel bound to call the attention of my fellow citizens.

— Frederic Bastiat, The Law

One of the many, many inspiring details of the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong, now powering into its fourth week, is the spontaneous creation of protest libraries, shelves of books right on the street for any and all protesters to borrow and read.

In that same spirit, I offer the following ebooks, free for download around the world, for those brave freedom protesters.

Possibly the most important is the short work by Bastiat, quoted above, The Law. I don’t know of a Chinese-language edition, but this English translation is very clear and easy to follow. You can get it from the Mises Institute or, if that’s blocked, from Project Gutenberg.

The next work, also in English but not Chinese (unfortunately) is economist Ludwig von Mises’s brilliant Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth, which you can also get from the Mises Institute, or from the Internet Archive.

Why is it brilliant? Mises demonstrated, barely three years after the founding of the Soviet Union, when the entire world seemed to believe that socialism was the way of reason, and the destination for the entire world in the future, that socialism is, in fact, impossible. A world without the mechanism of prices is one in which no individual can determine where to best spend his time, or to what ends to put his resources.

And as the Soviet Union was falling apart in the late 1980s, members of the Politburo admitted, among each other and behind closed doors, that they should put up a statue to Mises, because they came to realize that he had been exactly right. Don’t Just take my word for it, listen to what Gorbachev’s ex-economic adviser Yuri Maltsev says. (Warning, thick Russian accent and slight echo in the recording.)

The Mises Institute has also had a number of works translated into Chinese for free download. They are:

(Of course, there are also English-language versions of all of these to download, if you prefer.)

All the books are in the open ePub format.

Murray Rothbard was an anarchist, and I am not, but he was also very smart, and his thought is worth exploring even if you end up disagreeing with him on some things. Ludwig von Mises, despite the institute named after him, was not an anarchist.

The #UmbrellaRevolution in #HongKong is not Occupy, it’s the Tea Party

6 Oct


The protests in Hong Kong have affected me deeply. Students and youths have taken to the streets, blocking traffic, to protest the Mainland’s reneging on the handover agreement. In essence, Beijing is saying “you can vote for anybody, but the only choices you get are those we pre-select”. The students, youths, and thousands of others are not standing for that. They demand free elections.

The Umbrella Revolution name came after the first clashes with HK police, when students used umbrellas to shield themselves from unprovoked tear gas attacks. The first name chosen for the movement was “Occupy Central” (“Central” is the district where Hong Kong’s government is housed).

The name is wrong, but an understandable mistake.

Since 2009, there have been two basic protest movements in the west that have garnered international attention. “Occupy Wall Street” and its innumerable siblings garnered fawning adulation from the media, in large part because it was hypocritically anti-capitalist, and the western media hates very few things more than free enterprise.


The spontaneous, decentralized Tea Party movement, on the other hand, scared the ever-loving hell out of the media, bringing endless comparisons to the Nazi Party and the Nuremberg Rallies, as seen in Triumph of the Will. The media lied and lied and lied in order to besmirch the Tea Party protests and invalidate them in the popular imagination.

So why would I say that Occupy Central is a misnaming?

Occupy was a movement against free speech. While claiming to be pro-free speech, they railed non-stop to prevent the “wrong” people from having any rights at all. (Just breathe the words “Koch brothers” near an Occupier, and you’ll see what I mean.) They were anti-private property, anti-business, and destructive and disrespectful of the businesses that they dealt with.


The Tea Party was the first movement in modern history that left its protest venues cleaner than it found them. Tea Party rallies were invariably respectful of all private property and even idiotic local licensing requirements. And you know this is true, because if there were even one instance of a murder at a Tea Party rally, or the destruction of a business storefront, or a rape, it would have been trumpeted from every media outlet 24/7/365 as “proof” that the Tea Party was illegitimate, dangerous, and fascist.

Every single one of those things that never happened at a Tea Party rally, not even once, happened at multiple Occupy encampments. Well, okay, there might have been only the one murder. But it did not get reported, because it didn’t fit the media’s narrative.

And the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong?


They spontaneously organized trash and recycling disposal methods. They have been deeply respectful of business owners and their property. They have posted earnest apologies for the inconvenience they are causing to locals. Students stay up through the AM hours to obsessively clean up. When someone dropped HK$400 on the ground, an Umbrella Revolutionary taped a note over the bills saying “Don’t take, no idea who dropped it“.

The police who tear gassed them? They hold umbrellas over the policemen’s heads when it rains.


These kids are not unwashed, petulant hippies demanding the world on a platter. They are quiet, respectful, polite individuals demanding one thing — a voice in their government. And they are considerate of others’ concerns and lives in doing so.

In short, they are acting like the Tea Party (and getting treated by the Mainland government-controlled media much the same as the Tea Party was snidely dismissed by the mainstream media here in the US), and not at all like the orgiastic, out of control Occupy movement.

Given the disparity in media coverage, it’s no surprise that they went with that label. But it remains wrong. These kids want freedom and individual choice and capitalism. And they damned well deserve all of it.


Change the world, Umbrella Revolution!!!

3 Oct

Writing Music Monday: Martian Winter by Bruce H. McCosar

29 Sep

Martian Winter coverBruce H. McCosar is another O.G. Creative Commons musician who seems to have stopped releasing albums, which is a pity. But he has hours and hours of music available, and all of it is Free Culture-licensed, which means that even if he vanished in the the middle of the Bermuda Triangle intestate, his works will live on.

Between 2006 and 2010, McCosar — a middle school science teacher by profession — released eight solid albums of instrumental rock, post-rock and jazz.

Martian Winter was the fifth, released at the tail end of 2008. It combines his rock and jazz influences in interesting ways, and makes a very good soundtrack for writing or outlining.

As for what it means to him personally:

Like NASA’s Spirit rover, I survived a long journey, and found myself in a new land.

Like Spirit, I find myself under a darkening sky. Time goes on, and the light fades.

During Martian Winter, Spirit shuts down. But Spirit always returns.

That day is today. Listen to the newest transmissions from your sister planet.

So, it’s not nearly as spacy or Vangelis like as the previous Writing Music Monday album, but it’s still not a thing easily to be slotted into genre strictures. It’s a personal work, and feels it.

Download Martian Winter free from Jamendo.

Creative Commons License
Martian Winter by Bruce H. McCosar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Writing Music Monday: Echoes by Stellardrone

15 Sep

Echoes CoverI’ve only posted one album by Stellardrone, and that was more than a year ago. This is not a comment on his quality, but rather on my dependence on mood. Stellardrone is very good, but I’m very often not in the mood for his sort of sonic wallpaper.

Well, I’m back in the mood, it would seem, and since he hasn’t released a new full album since the last one I linked, I went one back.

Stellardrone released Echoes in 2012, and it’s an interesting bridge between his older works and 2013’s Light Years. The older works tend to be less melodic, more of a drone (per his name), and that’s the part of his musical sensibility that I just don’t care for. But with this album (and more so in the more recent one) he began experimenting with build ups and releases that sound more melodic to me, and if not, certainly shift the listener’s mood more successfully than the more neutral sounds he was creating before.

You can download Echoes by Stellardrone from Bandcamp in almost any audio format you want, as well as send money his way (or for free). You can also get it from Jamendo.

Creative Commons License
Echoes by Stellardrone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Mick Garris Interviews John Carpenter

9 Sep

Mick Garris interviews one of the most interesting filmmakers of the ’80s.

Carpenter evinces the integrity for which he should be better known here in talking about his second episode of Masters of Horror, when he talks about why he required a rewrite of the original script.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:


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