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Anger and madness

I dreamed last night that I was in Portland with a dozen or so blog friends when The Big One hit. We had gone to the city searching for Covid-19 supplies, which was tough enough. But now we were trapped by Mother Nature — in a world where people had been ordered to fear and avoid each other. In a world where natural instincts to help had been crushed.

For some reason, I had a large collection of books with me, which two of my friends quickly “borrowed” without permission. I knew they immagined my collection would be loaded with Ayn Rand tomes, which they considered essential guides to life. But I’d shucked off all that dogmatic stuff years ago and they’d be disappointed not to find Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

I, on the other hand, felt light. The world was finally going completely mad and I felt liberated, unburdened because there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to stop it. I perched on the shiny stair rail of an eight-story glass-and-steel office building and watched civilization fall below.


I’ve wanted to blog and not wanted to blog for the last two weeks.

It took me a while to realize I was resisting because all I have right now is anger.

Some of the anger is over The Big Stuff:

  • Willful destruction of the economy (and liberty, and people) over a disease that’s going to turn out to be only slightly more deadly than the seasonal flu;
  • The fact that this destruction has never been about protecting health;
  • The dawning truth that the left isn’t merely clueless, elitist, arrogant, and authoritarian to its core but has become a virtual death cult, craving a collapse into a depopulated, medieval level of survival while blaming the right for putting people at risk;
  • But the equal truth that the right is no less culpable and is indefensible — craving power, voting for idiocies, relishing new levels of control, then blaming the left for what they themselves have wrought.
  • The ultimate fact that every politician, media maven, and crank with an agenda is taking happy advantage of this trial run for toltalitarianism.

Some of my anger is over seemingly small stuff.

If I hear one more smug ignoramus, left or right, talking about when the government should “restart the economy,” I may scream. No government anywhere on this planet can “restart the economy” because the economy is an unthinkably complex system with millions of parts relying on millions of other parts and right now politicians are performing wholesale destruction of millions of system components.

You can’t just issue an order for some mythically simple “economy” to restart as if it were a light switch you flipped off an hour ago and can flip right back on at your discretion. It’s more like flipping on that light switch after you’ve spent months gleefully wrecking the entire power generation, distribution, maintenance, and billing system.

And no, it doesn’t help in the long run if you throw trillions of thin-air dollars at this economy you imagine is so simple to control.

Is it truly possible that “experts” don’t know this?

Yes, it’s possible — and that’s what makes this seemingly small personal irritation large and terrifying.


Other things that have me frothing really are small. But so telling.

Attempting to get away from the madness, I spent the last few days mudding bad interior walls here at Mo Saoirse Hermitage. Coming into the house Thursday clutching five pieces of corner bead newly bought at the lumber yard (which thank all the gods, remains open despite the best efforts of politicians), I noticed a label. To wit:

WARNING: Cancer and Reproductive Harm
[Some URL for those who actually bother]

Cancer and reproductive damage — from an innocuous strip of aluminum and paper designed to get buried under plaster??? Are you kidding??? What do you have to do to get cancer or damage your gonads from this object? Eat it regularly for dinner? Shave off tiny bits and inject them into your veins? Sharpen it and stab yourself in the ovaries or testicles?

The label is too busy redundantly shouting both WARNING and CAUTION to be specific. But I see by the URL that it’s a State of California thing (are you surprised?). And I wonder why the rest of us out here in the formerly sane quadrants of the nation should be forced ever again to endure California’s sick fantasies.

But of course, it’s this kind of eternally manufactured fear over every tiny threat or non-threat that leaves us ever more open to any form of health hysteria. If an inert piece of aluminum (or maybe the deadly thing is that paper!) can give you cancer or cause you to bear deformed babies, if eating tasty foods will rot you, if any random thing you encounter might fatally damage you in some mysterious way, what might some new infectious disease do? Oh my!

Panic! We must panic — then obey the “experts” who promise to save us.


Yesterday evening, a kind friend who had hoped for a far more pleasant conversation, allowed me to vent at him over many, many, many of my outrages and frustrations (of which these are only a sampling).

He understood. He — normally a dynamic, on-the-move person who’s now confined by edict to home and financial loss — said he’s angry, too.

And one of the causes of our mutual anger is over how hard simple things have become — how every ordinary daily move now requires strategy, tactics, and fear that some cop or nosy neighbor (encouraged by politicians or bureaucrats) will rat you out simply for living.

Both my friend and I take precautions against disease — masks, sanitizers, industrial-strength hand washing and the like. But we can’t take precautions against the murder of freedom or the murder of the economy. We can’t even take precautions against the steady, relentless worsening of daily life.


One of the things I got mad about yesterday was really small. So small that I laugh at myself. But as my friend said, when you get to the end, it takes only that one straw to break the camel’s back.

I went to the courthouse to pay my property taxes and found the entire building closed to the public. Now maybe I should be happy about that. But of course, they still want their money. And suddenly I was furious that I should have to turn around, go home, address an envelope, and — above all — pay extra, pay the price of a postage stamp, for the privilege of sending them a bribe so I’ll be allowed to keep my own house.

It was that postage stamp that did it. Not the taxes themselves. Not the mindlessly destructive shutdown of life. Not the mass public hysteria. Not the fact that we’re under martial law while being held prisoner in our own homes. Not the fact that these ‘crats were hiding in their offices or homes, continuing to be paid while more useful folk were out of work.

It was that postage stamp.

I’m not a cheap person despite my thrift-store habits (when the thrift stores aren’t all closed by government diktat). I don’t even know what a postage stamp costs, these days. What, $0.55 or so? But suddenly I was bursting with bile over the thought that I should have to give manipulative totalitarian bastards that much more of my money, of my life, of my day for such an abysmally stupid reason.

I had a glass of wine, vented at my friend, and got over it. But still.


I haven’t wanted to write when all I had was anger.

Anger can be a place to begin. Anger can be productive. If anger ultimately leads you to walk out of a bad relationship, a bad job, a cruel religion, or a broken system, then good for anger — and good for you for using anger as a motivator. If anger at yourself inspires you to do better, good. If anger at injustice inspires you to work for justice, good. If anger at cruelty inspires you to be kind, good.

But too often anger is just a festering wound.

We’ve all known people who spend their whole lives in a sickness of rage — forever seeking out things and people to resent, blame, and hate — collecting bitterness as if it were a hobby — willfully making their own lives a misery while also keeping everyone around them walking on eggshells out of fear of provoking their sudden violent outbursts.

Ceaseless, fruitless anger is also the helplessness of the abused child, unable to strike back against the tormenter, so (all too often) being twisted into a tormenter himself as he selectes smaller, even more vulnerable beings on which to expend his forbidden rage.

The rage of ground-down populations is similar to that of an abused child.

While pockets of productive anger are becoming part of the response to the most irrational lockdowns, I fear that the sick kind of anger will be far more prevalent as we suffer the long-term consequences of panic-demic politics.

My friend and I made a casual bet on when riots would start. (I said by mid-July; he thinks perhaps as early as Memorial Day.) Of course, “stimulus” payments and unemployment insurance that pays more than many jobs are intended to keep the natives from getting too restless. And maybe that will work. For a while.

But ultimately there will be so much festering, sick anger. Millions of causes, billions of desperate, angry people the world over. Such anger — from people who don’t know its true causes and who’ve been lied to by clueless “experts” — never leads to anything good. It leads to the slow rot of socialism. The volcanic eruption of war. Daily inhumanity to man. Death by diseases once thought extinct. Family violence. Hyperinflation, for which some hapless group (guess which) will be blamed and targeted. Addiction. Suicide. Even starvation for some.

Nothing, nothing, nothing good at all.


The disease will run its course and studies will show that millions survived it without even being aware they experienced anything unusual. The media will pretend they never, ever over-hyped Covid-19 as TEOTWAWKI. The “experts” who initially fanned hysteria will claim they only issued the most responsible and accurate predictions.

People will shamefacedly put away their masks (those masks that magically went from being “useless” and “giving a false sense of security” one day to being The Law, or at least The Latest Vitally Important Expert Recommendation the next) and try to forget that they ever judged (or reported) their neighbors for playing in a park or getting within five feet of a friend.

But what won’t happen, what never happens, is true reflection on what went wrong, and why, and how to prevent it happening again.

The very next time politicians and the media combine to rouse mass hysteria, mass hysteria will duly be roused.

It always is. Whether it’s Covid-19 or immigration or global warming or the always-handy Jews or invasion from outer space or AIDS or commies or witches or the threat of another ice age or a deadly meteor strike or the end of the world due to Mayan predictions, computer glitches, or biblical prophesy … people can always be whipped into unthinking terror, and all the cruelties and stupidities that go with it.

And the harder the times, and the more widespread the hard times, the more likely and more potentially dangerous the hysteria.

And politicians are right now happily creating the hardest of hard times for the longest of long times in the greatest populations.

Ultimately the only cure for mass hysteria or totalitarianism is to create educational and philosophical bulwarks against them and to build social (not necessarily governmental) structures that resist being put to evil uses.

But in stupid times, that’s not possible. It’s a task for later.


Me, I’ll go outside as soon as weather permits and begin planting seeds and transplanting seedlings. (Where I live, it’s still “allowed.”)

I won’t sustain my current level of rage because I’ve got a lifetime’s practice in stepping away from anger and finding something better to do, finding more productive ways to deal with life.

So this, too, shall pass.

Next time California or Seattle does something stupid, I’ll laugh and say, “Well, that’s them. That’s not me. That’s not anybody I know or care about.”

These are tribal times. They will become more deeply tribal as governments and an increasingly, shockingly ignorant “expert” class revel in making life worse.

Leaders will arise, and they’ll mostly be either effective and dangerous or dangerously ineffective.

People will suffer. People will die. But they will mostly never understand and never even think to question why they suffer. As Buffy Sainte-Marie sang, they’ll “blame the angels, blame the fates, blame the Jews, or your sister Kate.” And they’ll go on being easy clay for manipulators at both the lowest and highest levels.

You can’t fight this. Not in any principled, rational, traditional way. Not right now. These are the crazy years. We will have to endure and survive them before the productive aspect of anger can take over.

Find a life-sustaining tribe. A tribe that has something much more to offer than anger and blame. Cleave to it, contribute to it, preserve its precious knowledge and the knowledge of freedom, and be grateful.

Build a monastery, a fortress, a climate-controlled cave to preserve knowledge. Build a community of mind, heart, and soul. Guard it well.

Then feel light because you’ve done the best you can do. And be light in dark times.

It’s all you’re going to have in the long run.


  1. Just Waiting
    Just Waiting April 25, 2020 12:02 pm

    Warning! Caution!
    When C was working, one of their clients was a big tobacco co. Business being business, they wanted to get the best price to buy a side market brand, smokeless. So their lobbyists convinced the FDA that the plastic used in the product dispensary display of smokeless co. might off gas and cause harm to users (like the tobacco isn’t?), and that all displays should be made of medical grade materials. FDA made big deal about protecting dip users from cancer from off gassing. Stock price dropped looking at cost of replacing 100,000 displays, big company bought them, new regulation was quietly withdrawn.

  2. Jorge
    Jorge April 25, 2020 3:12 pm

    Preserve what we can for the remnant. Prepare them as best we can for the future they face. Do the best we can today to keep what is ours and help our friends and neighbors do the same.

    This is just the start. The power grab under the guise of “public health” has mostly worked. Those in government, no matter what their supposed ideological orientation, are going to grab more and more power over us, the plebs.

    Monkey wrench, be a mole, if so inclined be an agitator. Or just slip between the cracks living as best you can. Always try to be an example to those who will come after us. Show them there is another way.

    Maybe they, or their children, will be able to create a freer world.

  3. Joel
    Joel April 25, 2020 3:32 pm

    It’s a well known fact that being in California causes cancer and reproductive harm. That’s why everything there is labeled thus. 🙂

  4. Jim B.
    Jim B. April 25, 2020 11:52 pm

    Too bad Politicians don’t come with labels warning people they cause cancer and reproductive harm. They may actually stay away from them, unlike the other stuffs.

  5. Borepatch
    Borepatch April 26, 2020 8:16 am

    I have to admit that I’m quite angry about the situation. We will soon have 30 M out of work, but The Powers That Be aren’t among them – and so nothing is going to change. The Class Warfare (overt or covert) is very ugly.

  6. Comrade X
    Comrade X April 26, 2020 10:34 am

    “The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.”

    Marcus Aurelius

    Goes for women too, but it is good to vent to let some steam off before there’s an explosion.

  7. Ersatz Naugahyde
    Ersatz Naugahyde April 26, 2020 1:09 pm

    If the TBP think they can cancel summer (highly doubtful given the crowd at the closest – 35 miles – Home Depot yesterday) then there will be riots by Memorial Day.

    Re: Rand.. I hope you kept your copy of Anthem. Short, sweet and to the point.. It says ‘everything Rand’ in about 100 pages.

    PS. Belated welcome back!

  8. Pat
    Pat April 26, 2020 1:43 pm

    Ersatz said: “Re: Rand.. I hope you kept your copy of Anthem. Short, sweet and to the point.. It says ‘everything Rand’ in about 100 pages.”


    Have you heard the CD of Anthem (2 discs) read by Paul Meier, a Professor of Theatre and Film at University of Kansas? (Copyrighted 2002, produced by The Atlas Society)

    A beautiful rendition — he takes you there!

  9. Claire
    Claire April 26, 2020 1:48 pm

    Ersatz Naugahyde — oh, in real life I still do have Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. I still occasionally read and enjoy Atlas, though Fountainhead OTOH might be the most repetitive, boring, talky novel of all time and Dominique Francon and Howard Roark are a pair of weirdo pervs.

    I think the dream was just saying that while dogma has its place it’s not a go-to guide to life in all circumstances.

  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous April 26, 2020 9:50 pm

    Ultimately the only cure for mass hysteria or totalitarianism is to create educational and philosophical bulwarks against them and to build social (not necessarily governmental) structures that resist being put to evil uses.

    Freethinkers are people who make up their own minds about moral rules. Early America had the largest concentration of freethinkers ever in history, who concentrated themselves by emigration. The natural, un-emigration-concentrated rate of freethinkers is 1 in 100. That percentage is not increased by having parents, a community, a church, or teachers who are freethinkers. Otherwise America’s liberty, starting from the greatest concentration of freethinkers ever, would have decayed slower than the 200 year timespan it historically does. The claim that education produces liberty has been experimentally tested, and it doesn’t work.

    I believe the amount of liberty matches what the military technology allows to be produced, and morals adjust to claim that level is correct. So morals can be ignored as derivative. Consider instead how military technology can make ground hard to cross or hold. Imagine filling the woods around your house with electronic monitoring gadgets, to make what fairy tales called an enchanted forest. Will the revenuers come back down the mountain? Imagine doing your everyday trade through crypto black market websites, like the ones for drugs. Men, imagine telling your wife that no she’s not going to “vote” for that new “law”, or she can get out of the house and get nothing, because the fault is all hers when she decided to be your enemy. Ha, ha, I kid. Everyone knows American wives keep American husbands’ testicles in their purses.

  11. Tom Fournelle
    Tom Fournelle April 26, 2020 10:39 pm

    Hi Claire,
    I apologize for the length of this, but wanted to give you an idea of why the label was on your drywall thingy.
    You’ve been introduced to California Proposition 65.
    And this is why the product has the sticker on it.

    I worked for a small Minnesota gift company, we had two lines, fashion jewelry, and “girly” stuff, things like hair mascara, tutus, lip gloss, dress-up things like crowns, purses, and even room décor, like felt sayings and lamps, etc.

    One day we received a legal notice from the Atty General in CA, stating a small coin purse that was purchased in a store in CA had tested positive for Phthalates. They are a group of chemicals, plasticizers, which keep plastics soft and pliable. The coin purse in question was a small, maybe for inches long, 3 high, and 1 wide, and shiny. The lawsuit had been filed by “someone, A Mr. M. About six weeks later, we received a notice from the Atty General that no action was to be taken by them.

    I suppose they looked into it, and a small gift company in Minneapolis with 9 employees wasn’t worth their time. ) We only sold 12 coin purses to that particular store.

    Note: at the time the purse was produced, phthalates were not on our radar, and testing for phthalates was not required.

    Now the fun begins. Mr. M filed suit against us a friend of the court for violation of Prop 65. Prop 65 doesn’t prohibit the sale of items with phthalates, it doesn’t regulate them or even ban them, it only requires the product (each and every one) has a label stating: “California Proposition 65 Warning. Warning: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.” (At that time it was the only acceptable wording, now there are some allowedvariations.)

    First our MN corporate atty had to find a CA atty to represent us, so double lawyer expenses. Then all of the required paperwork. We had to furnish all our test reports (the coin purse had metal snaps so lead testing was required). They also required a list of all stores we sold the product to, dates, quantities, everything. Manufacturing invoices showing quantities and deliveries. A ton of paperwork back and forth.

    We found out Mr. M had 400 lawsuits filed as a friend of the court, all for Prop 65. He has people going around looking for products to purchase and test in the hopes of finding victims. The lawyer in CA refers to them as 65 headhunters. (One firm was censured by the CA courts for excess prosecution, even the court felt 4500 lawsuits were extreme.)

    After 7 months of back and forth, they finally asked us to settle out of court for $100,000. More back and forth, we finally settled for $25,000, the average amount companies settle single product suits for. Now I don’t remember the exact amounts, this was 2010, but out of that, CA received $2,000, Mr. M $8,000 and his attys $15,000. Not bad for doing little to nothing. Legal extortion. Oh, Mr. M did promise as part of the settlement not to pursue us for any other products… a threat we had to consider as part of the reason to agree to a settlement. At the time of the lawsuit, the product had been out of our line for 3 years! In the children’s gift business, 6 months is a long product life in many cases.

    This would also apply if we had sold say to a company for instance, in PA, and they shipped it to a customer in CA. Then someone could sue the gift shop and us for the violation!

    And yes, a lot of customers refused to purchase products with the label, and reported a lot of their customer freaked out that “we” were trying to kill their kids, etc.

    So now you see why they put the label on!

  12. dorvann33 234
    dorvann33 234 April 27, 2020 12:43 am

    The scariest thing for me about this epidemic is how close we are as a society to facing a problem we we really can’t “solve”. I think it’s arrogance if anyone-whether it’s a conservative or liberal, libertarian or authoritarian, capitalist or socialist—thinks that every problem man faces can be solved.

    Realistically all we can is try manage and mitigate the epidemic and I am not even convinced we are doing good job at that.

  13. Ersatz Naugahyde
    Ersatz Naugahyde April 27, 2020 8:59 am


    Have you heard the CD of Anthem (2 discs) read by Paul Meier, a Professor of Theatre and Film at University of Kansas? (Copyrighted 2002, produced by The Atlas Society”

    Pat, thanks for the heads up..

  14. Noah Body
    Noah Body April 27, 2020 12:05 pm

    Re legal extortion. I heard of lawyers for copyright holders engaging in what would be considered entrapment, if it were criminal law rather than civil.

    The lawyer would go to a small bakery and ask them to make a Snoopy cake for their kid’s birthday. When the cake was made, the lawyer would file suit against the bakery for copyright infringement. Snoopy is a copyrighted character. The bakery would settle the case for a few hundred dollars (back in the 70s or 80s), which was cheaper than hiring an attorney to fight it. This was specifically done for profit for the lawyer.

    Laws are often weapons used by the unscrupulous.

  15. Scott Semans
    Scott Semans April 27, 2020 1:12 pm

    Agree! But I just can’t see why anyone would pay property taxes in person when it could be mailed in. It’s worth 55 cents to me just to not talk to a bureaucrat, not to mention a drive both ways, maybe a line . . . . .

  16. larryarnold
    larryarnold April 28, 2020 1:06 am

    I just interviewed a couple who was shopping for a fast-food franchise, and landed in Texas. They said they were really looking for something near California, as that’s where she was raised and he spent much of his previous career. They intended to return there upon retirement.

    They’ve lived in Texas a bit more than a year, aren’t ever going back, and they’ve convinced her parents to move here.

    BTW, our county courthouse was shut down for about half an hour, until the County Judge tore the sign down. You can’t get in the tax office without an appointment, but if you just need to pay property taxes, as I recently did, there’s a secure dropbox by the door.

    The newspaper has a box in the County Clerk’s office where copies of County Court records collect. Every Friday, I knock on the door, and someone fetches them for me. Cheerfully.

    People were already moving from California and other blue states to freer states. Now that folks have had a good, hard look at what government can do, it will be interesting to see how many vote with their feet as soon as things are unlocked.

    I have a feeling I’m going to get a lot more neighbors, soon.

  17. Tom
    Tom April 30, 2020 8:41 am

    This has been a very eye opening experience for me. I thought I had built strong relations with fellow freedomnistas and together we had a life sustaining tribe that would have a good shot at surviving any calamity.

    I was wrong. Very very wrong. People who I thought would never panic and be leaders in a crisis have fallen into hysteria with no sign of ever snapping out of it. Business associates I thought would at least provide goods and services on the blackmarket if not outright openly defy any kind of government shutdown, have closed up shop refusing to do business of any sort. Friends who I thought would have my back now cower in their houses too afraid to even let me come and help them.

    Meanwhile my prediction of riots in May appear to be on track as unemployment continues to skyrocket.

    I do see signs of hope. Georgia and Tennessee apparently have opened up. Also apparently there were a few states that didn’t fully shutdown and now their Governors are starting to be proclaimed heroes and sensible by some of the media (not sure any political qualifies as a hero but it is better than constant fear from the media) .

    I’m not sure how this will all play out. I have learned that I’m a very poor judge of character and in a crisis my family and I are going to be on our own.

  18. Joel
    Joel May 1, 2020 6:29 pm

    Find a life-sustaining tribe. A tribe that has something much more to offer than anger and blame. Cleave to it, contribute to it, preserve its precious knowledge and the knowledge of freedom, and be grateful.

    Build a monastery, a fortress, a climate-controlled cave to preserve knowledge. Build a community of mind, heart, and soul. Guard it well.

    Think local. Location is important but individuals are more important yet. I’m not sure anymore how important the politics of those individuals are – my most important neighbors express politics quite far from my own but their demonstrated approach to self reliance seems completely at odds with the political views they express. Personally I’m getting the notion that what people absorb from TV or the Internet is so contorting that what they say they believe about this politician or that may not actually make that much difference in how they actually behave. It’s confusing and complicated but life isn’t as simple as left and right.

  19. Claire
    Claire May 2, 2020 11:52 am

    I was wrong. Very very wrong. People who I thought would never panic and be leaders in a crisis have fallen into hysteria with no sign of ever snapping out of it. Business associates I thought would at least provide goods and services on the blackmarket if not outright openly defy any kind of government shutdown, have closed up shop refusing to do business of any sort. Friends who I thought would have my back now cower in their houses too afraid to even let me come and help them.

    I’m sorry but not surprised your community has gone so wrong on you. Whipping otherwise sane people into a deadly panic is such a handy old trick of tyrants. Works every damn time.

    Only one of my local friends has collapsed into a huddling, hiding heap in this nicely manufactured crisis. And one who restricted her business really had to because she’s licensed and couldn’t risk everything (but even she knew quite well what was going on, and eventually began to open up more). But I’m still stinging from the one friend — supposedly an individualist anarchist — who turned into a crazed xenophobic fascist after 9/11.

    As you imply, it’s not just their actions, but our inability to predict which seemingly solid friends will turn fascist, jingo, or coward without notice that’s so disturbing. I feel very lucky only to have “lost” one this time around, and that one probably only temporarily. My other friends and local contacts are being cautious, but still their skeptical, helpful selves.

    I like the community Joel describes. Those people are tested every day by the harsh reality they live in. They know more about their community than some of us do.

  20. Myself
    Myself May 2, 2020 6:15 pm


    Look at the bright side, you’ve had a chance to stress test your plans, found, and (hopefully) made corrections, you’ve also had the chance to challenge some of your own assumptions, which is never a bad thing.

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