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“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”
— Thucydides

“A civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.”
— Jean-François Revel

Launch Day for "The No Fear Pioneer"!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I’m tremendously excited to be launching a brand new podcast today: “The No Fear Pioneer”. (Note the shiny new “Podcast” tab, above!)

The No Fear Pioneer logo: a rocket ascending in the sky, with an Old West wagon train rolling along below

The idea is to look at risk, opportunity, and freedom in the context of frontiers past, present, and future. What drives some people to seek the frontier life — to become pioneers? How has our frontier past shaped our present, and where can today’s pioneers find the challenging life of wide open spaces that they seek?

There are plenty of great podcasts out there, so I plan to keep this one short and sweet, with episodes limited to the 5-15 minute range.

You can listen on the podcast home page, which will have links to subscribe in iTunes and Stitcher as soon as my listings go live. I have exciting ideas in mind for future episodes, which will appear on the feed and the podcast page as I make time to produce them.

Hope you enjoy the first episode — I put my all into it, and had loads of fun producing it!

Saving Ricochet

Monday, December 17, 2012

'Save Ferris' Water Tower, Repurposed

Ricochet, a deservedly popular and uniquely valuable site for civil, center-right discussion and superb podcasts, and one of my favorite online destinations, needs our help. And they’re asking very little.

For people dedicated to the idea that something worth having is worth paying a little of our hard-earned money for, keeping Ricochet going should be easy. We can do this in our sleep, folks. All they need is for a mere 2% of their 400,000-500,000 unique monthly visitors to join, at the bargain price of $3.67 per month or $29.95 for a year (=$2.50/month). I’ve been a member since March 2011, and am already renewed through March 2014. If you’ve enjoyed the site and want it to stick around beyond their projected “fiscal cliff” of January 21st (also known in some circles as “Inauguration Day 2013”), please become a paid member, or give a gift membership. They’ve given the world some uniquely great content, and now they need more new members to step up. Pronto.

There are plenty of sites you can visit to read editorials and blog posts, and then drown in a sea of spite-filled ad hominem invective punctuated only occasionally by a sparse flotsam of sincere and insightful remarks in the comments that follow, if that’s your thing. We call this phenomenon “The Internet(s)”. By charging a nominal membership fee for the ability to post and comment, and thus giving participants some “skin in the game” — a small but significant stake in keeping the place civil — Ricochet has built a site and community without peer, where one’s time reading and having meaningful discussions can actually be well spent. What’s more, Ricochet provides the unique opportunity to engage in discussions with prominent great minds, and people of uniquely interesting perspectives and great wit — people such as Peter Robinson, Victor Davis Hanson, James Lileks, Rob Long, Claire Berlinski, Pat Sajak … the list goes on and on.

Friends, we’re going to need a gathering place like Ricochet more than ever in the coming years. If we give a damn, we can easily keep it going. Or, we can just let it go under on Inauguration Day, content to dream of the other, far better uses to which we can put the 8 cents a day we’ll each have saved. Our choice.

There’s a founders’ discussion of their fiscal sitution in the latest podcast episode.

Where do we go now?

Given the way Bill Whittle’s extraordinary “Silent America” essays saved me from isolation and despair years ago, it should have come as no surprise that a series of new videos from Bill was the first thing that gave me any reason for hope after the re-election of Barack Obama in November. More than that even, Bill’s words and ideas in these videos made me feel unexpectedly energized about the prospect of a way forward. Watching them is no small time commitment, but neither is saving our beloved USA, and I can vouch for the fact that Bill doesn’t disappoint. His sober but undaunted thinking seems like exactly what we need now.

I started with “A New Beginning…”, the November 7, 2012 episode of Bill’s semi-regular video podcast, “The Stratosphere Lounge”. In it, Bill advances a big-picture idea that looks beyond the process of politics-as-usual that has repeatedly failed us, to postulate a tectonic cultural shift that may now be possible: American citizens voluntarily contributing to the building of parellel private-sector institutions that will put their sclerotic, unsustainable government counterparts to shame by the comparison of results they produce. There’s more to it than that, and Bill explains and motivates his idea in much greater depth than I can hope to effectively summarize, so by all means give this a watch if you can.

Bill’s thinking seems to me to contain echoes of Virginia Postrel’s “Dynamism”, with a key idea being emphasis of decentralized, voluntary initiative in diverse and numerous laboratories of innovation over attempting to shape the future through rigid central planning.

The book Bill mentions in this video, “The Starfish and the Spider”, is available on Amazon, by the way.

If you might only find time to watch one of these videos, I’d probably suggest starting with “Where do we go now?”, Bill’s talk at the November 12, 2012 Hancock Park Patriots meeting, which is followed by an unmissable Q&A session (OK, OK, that makes two videos) in which Bill demonstrates how an effective President of the United States would handle key issues and address a press corps that actually did its job and asked tough questions:

As I remarked and quasi-summarized in my Twitter timeline after watching “A New Beginning”:

Bill’s is a big dream, but dammit, everything worth having in this country was built by people who dreamed big. It can be done!

Focusing only on the next election is the trap we keep falling into; it’s how we keep losing ground. It’s the best our opponents can hope for. Progressives/Alinskyites have a long-term plan that has changed the culture over decades. That’s the game we need to play, but there’s more…

Our existing cultural institutions — education, entertainment, space exploration — are lost. They are tied to a sinking Leviathan of a state. Our only hope is to build voluntary parallel institutions that outshine them, that will show by comparison what miserable failures they are.

The good news: Culture leads; government only very slowly reacts and follows and struggles clumsily to adapt.

Our present centralized government is born of the Industrial Revolution, a by-gone age. It’s unlikely to survive the next big paradigm shift. It’s ossified, rigid, slow-moving, and economically unsustainable. The future requires dynamism, adaptability, decentralization.

Progressivism’s idea of “Forward” is the dinosaur in the room. It’s rigid, coercive, glued to theory that doesn’t flex when reality defies it. Think of all the technological revolutions that have blindsided us in our lifetimes, that few saw coming, and the impact they’ve had. Things we’re incapable of planning for end up mattering the most. Progress is what happens while Progressives are busy making other plans.

Anticipating what might be the next wave is hard enough. Trying to engineer a rigidly defined future is a losing battle. Dynamism wins.

So many genuinely smart people know just enough to think they can engineer the world. If engineering has taught me anything, it’s humility. Solvable problems have to be very tightly constrained, conditions for solving them clearly defined. Reality can ruin your whole day.

We know what doesn’t work, or works clumsily at best and seems doomed to collapse under its own weight and inertia, but what’s the alternative? What are the practical mechanics of a way out? Building parallel private-sector institutions whose success puts their government rivals to shame.

The crux of Bill’s idea: Pay your taxes. Write that off as gone, lost. Forget it. Budget some of what’s left to help build something better.

It’s a grand and vague idea in some respects, but I do believe with the right approach this can work. Government can’t compete with private sector dynamism.

I stand by that assessment, and I have hope we’ll find that some variant of Bill’s ideas on this will provide a real and achievable way out. If you yearn to reclaim our future as I do, by all means please give Bill’s latest work a hearing.

9/11, Eleven Years On

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What can I say about that horrific day eleven years ago, and our response in the years since, that I haven’t already written, quoted, or linked? Last year, I wrote a carefully thought-out plea to my fellow countrymen and citizens of the civilized world, arguing that it is crucial for us to open our eyes to Jihadists’ intentions and squarely face what we are up against. If you are in doubt about the danger we face, please go there and give it some thoughtful consideration. We are sabotaging ourselves — hobbling our own ability to understand, and decide what we must do to prevail against, a determined foe — and we have got to stop.

Last February, I paid the first visit of my life to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. There’s a ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island that departs from Liberty Park, New Jersey, and at that site, next to a historic former rail station that served as a gateway to America for tens of thousands of immigrants, there now stands a stirring and fitting memorial to New Jersey’s victims of the 9/11 attacks titled “Empty Sky”.

I’m not usually a fan of the stark, industrial-modern style of memorial that has followed in the footsteps of Maya Lin’s Vietnam War Memorial, but I think what was done at Liberty Park works well.

Parallel walls, 30 feet high and as long as the Twin Towers were wide, carve out a channel that’s oriented toward the World Trade Center site. Entering the space between the walls evokes the awe-inspiring sensation of standing between the towering buildings. Meanwhile, your eye is drawn down the man-made channel toward Ground Zero, just across the Hudson — a view that tends to focus the mind.

You also find yourself in a private, contemplative space where the names of New Jersey’s 9/11 dead have been inscribed and can be read on the interior wall surfaces. I found it a fitting memorial overall — far from the cold and sterile monument one might expect from its physical description. Any possibility of that is canceled out by the pair of steel beams recovered from the World Trade Center wreckage, that sit starkly at the far end of the channel just outside the walls. If anything, the absence of human forms (one of the common characteristics of modern memorials that usually rubs me the wrong way) succeeds in evoking a sense of loss and absence — a seemingly fitting reminder of those who were taken from us that day. Also, bear in mind where this memorial sits. Anyone standing at this site on the morning of September 11th, 2001 would have had a clear view of the horror, as American Airlines Flights 11 and 175 were flown by fanatical Jihadists into the World Trade Center towers.

Empty Sky memorial and World Trade Center beams

Sighting down the channel delimited by the walls, one can see the rebuilding occurring at the World Trade Center site. One World Trade Center (formerly dubbed the “Freedom Tower”) is visible at the left edge, and 4 World Trade Center can be seen at the right.

sighting down the Empty Sky memorial, toward the World Trade Center site

Here’s what the memorial looks like from the side:

Empty Sky memorial from side

At each end, the walls are inscribed thusly:

Empty Sky memorial inscription 1

Empty Sky: New Jersey September 11th Memorial

On the morning of September 11, 2001, with the skies so clear the Twin Towers across the river appeared to be within reach, the very essence of what our country stands for — freedom, tolerance, and the pursuit of happiness — was attacked. This memorial is dedicated to New Jersey’s innocent loved ones who were violently and senselessly murdered that day at the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and in Shanksville, PA.

Empty Sky memorial inscription 2

Let this memorial reflect the legacies of those whose lives were lost, that their unfulfilled dreams and hopes may result in a better future for society. Their unique qualities and characteristics enriched our lives immeasurably, and through this memorial their stories shall live on.

Note the fairly unflinching terms in which the attacks are described: those killed on that day were violently and senselessly murdered. Such moral clarity is too rarely seen, and welcome in my book. While it’s not clear to me how a memorial that immortalizes the victims’ names alone can succeed in helping their stories to live on, I give this design credit for getting a lot more right than wrong.

More pictures of the memorial can be found here.

Here’s what Lower Manhattan looked like from that vantage point last February, by the way:

Lower Manhattan, from Liberty Park, New Jersey, February 20, 2012

Here’s what it looked like when I visited again ten days ago, on September 1st:

Lower Manhattan, from Liberty Park, New Jersey, September 1, 2012

You can see clear progress on WTC 1 (left) and WTC 4, relative to the heights of the surrounding buildings. WTC 1 recently reached its symbolic final height of 1,776 feet. As I’ve written before though, it’s troubled me that it has taken us so long to rebuild at the WTC site, relative to what I know we’re capable of. The original World Trade Center towers opened 4 and 6 years after construction began. The Empire State Building, a smaller but still substantial high-rise project, was completed in a mere 410 days. During the Great Depression. We can still achieve such feats, if we choose to. Do we still have it in us?

top of WTC 1, September 1, 2012

Speaking of memorials: I have yet to visit the 9/11 memorial that is now open at the World Trade Center site. The need to obtain a ticket, and the advance planning that that requires, has only served to enable my hesitation about visiting. I visited Ground Zero two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, then again in November 2007 (and later posted some pictures from that day), but somehow the thought of visiting the completed memorial seems a different proposition. I just don’t know whether I can handle it without getting tremendously upset all over again. I’m not someone who needs convincing about the sorrow and grave implications of that day, and I don’t think I would find any solace there. But I know I’ll probably end up overcoming all that and visiting someday, and when I finally do, I’ll write about the experience here.

Here at the lake, it’s a crisp, clear day that can’t help but evoke one that began similarly eleven years ago.

Packanack Lake, September 11, 2012

I went for a morning run, feeling grateful that, unlike so many whose lives and dreams and ambitions were cut short that day, I am still here and have the precious opportunity to continue to strive against my limits. Our local volunteer fire department has a commemorative message up. A fraternity of first responders forged in a shared willingness to run toward danger will not soon forget its fallen heroes. Nor should we.

sign at Packanack Lake Fire House, September 11, 2012

So Long, California

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On receiving a campaign email titled “Every Radical Woman” last week from my former Congresswoman, Democrat Jackie Speier, whose mailing list seems to have mis-classified me as a supporter, I felt compelled to reply.

I suppose I might have saved my energy and let this one go — I no longer live in California, after all — but its cynical and disingenuous attempt to tar the pro-liberty Tea Party movement as somehow anti-woman, as part of the bombastic “war on women” meme that today’s Democrats seem to hope will distract from their out-of-control spending and abysmal failure on the economy, was too far beyond the pale to go unchallenged.

On a range of issues culminating in Speier’s enthusiastic support for the legislative and financial disaster known as ObamaCare, whose detractors her campaign vilified as fear-mongering extremists, I never felt Congresswoman Speier represented my positions or values. Thankfully, we are now both relieved of the representative-constituent relationship, as I explained in my emailed reply:

You may wish to update your contact list. I did not vote for you, but you may thank me for relieving you of the burden of representing me.

After 33 years in California, some of it lived as a moderate Democrat, I have given up on my beloved home state, and departed with my productivity and entrepreneurship in search of places where fiscal sanity is practiced. I have been much happier for it, and have not had cause to look back.

As one municipality after another goes bankrupt, while voters refuse to do the difficult grown-up work of reining in out-of-control spending, my only remaining hope for the state of my birth is that it may serve as a warning to the rest of the country before it is too late.

Suffrage was and remains a fine and just achievement, but it’s an irreversible milestone from which society has rightly moved on. Today’s authentically “radical women” are those who challenge the regnant orthodoxy of unsustainable, infantilizing nanny-state feminism and are routinely vilified for it. The overwrought notions that calling for fiscal responsibility somehow constitutes a “war on women”, or that the economy- and liberty-focused Tea Party represents a resurgence of anti-feminist social conservatism, are farcical and disingenuous scare tactics, and I suspect most of those who promulgate these desperate fallacies know that. If there is a war on women, it is nowhere more manifest than in persistent unemployment that disproportionately affects women -- the foreseeable result of decreasingly competitive, increasingly business-unfriendly economic policies. What will most help women is what will help us all: a return to smaller government and fiscal sustainability.

For my part, I’ve had enough of fiscal denial, and the ugly and cynical politics of fear, envy, and entitlement that have fed this crisis, having left in search of places where the pioneering American Idea still thrives. I will go wherever I have to to escape the ruinous advance of Progressivism -- a philosophy whose state mechanisms, as California’s 33rd governor aptly put it, resemble nothing so much as my newborn’s alimentary canal -- with an insatiable appetite at one end, and no sense of responsibility at the other.

I do hope California can be saved. I’m done waiting and wishing, against all evidence and common sense, for it to happen, and I leave the state to those who seem to think they know better.

You’re welcome.

Your Former Constituent,
Troy Stephens

A snapshot of the campaign email to which I replied:

'Every Radical Woman' Campaign Email, Received from Jackie Speier for Congress, 2012-08-27

Independence Day 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

“Independence Day”. Let’s start by calling it that again. I’ve been trying to break myself of the “4th of July” habit, which waters the holiday down to a phrase that carries almost no meaning.

This year’s Independence Day finds me contemplating and worrying about the significance of the Roberts court ObamaCare ruling, and what it is likely to mean for the future of our Republic founded in Liberty. Have we, as it appears, chosen Safety over Liberty in a bargain that Ben Franklin warned us would yield neither, and thus forfeited the latter to encroachment by an ever-expanding central government designed to take care of us like helpless children? Some smart people who I respect say it’s not as bad as it looks, and I’m weighing their reasoning, but I have yet to feel I’ve reached any sort of confident conclusion on the matter.

That said: Never, never, never, never give up.

Here’s my slightly refreshed Independence Day playlist for this year, which I promise is more upbeat than the above. See my previous years’ Independence Day archives for other song recommendations. Enjoy!

  1. Five for Fighting, “Slice” (iTunes, Amazon)
  2. Five for Fighting, “Note to the Unknown Soldier” (iTunes, Amazon)
  3. Chris Ross, “Liberty” (iTunes)
  4. Krista Branch, “Remember Who We Are” (iTunes)
  5. Aretha Franklin, “Think” (iTunes, Amazon)
  6. Jon David, “American Heart” (iTunes, Amazon)
  7. Stuck Mojo, “I’m American” (iTunes, Amazon, blog)
  8. Rush, “Freewill” (iTunes, Amazon
  9. Madeleine Peyroux, “This is Heaven to Me” (iTunes, Amazon, blog)
  10. Ray Charles, “America the Beautiful” (iTunes)
  11. Oscar Peterson Trio, “Hymn to Freedom” (iTunes, Amazon)

ps - The venture I started last year has been progressing nicely. I’m having the time of my life, and working toward an end-of-summer launch for the app I’ve been working on. More to come!

Plzeň Remembers

Friday, May 4, 2012

This coming Sunday, May 6th, marks the 67th anniversary of the liberation of the Czech town of Plzeň by the United States Army. As you can see here, Plzeň hasn’t forgotten. Nor should we.

Every 5 years, Pilsen conducts the Liberation Celebration of the City of Pilsen in the Czech Republic . May 6th, 2010, marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Pilsen by General George Patton’s 3rd Army. Pilsen is the town that every American should visit. Because they love America and the American Soldier…

Photo of 'Thank You America' Liberation Monument in Plzen

Between Czech roots (my mother’s parents), memories of a 1985 visit to Plzeň, and gratitude for our veterans, the story especially touches me. It made the email rounds about a year and a half ago, so many of you are likely to have seen it already, but for any who haven’t yet, I feel inclined to pass the link along. (If that copy ever goes away, the story can also be found here, here, and here.)

Don’t miss the included story of Zdenka Sladkova, 79, who for 67 years has tended a memorial at the crash site of a KIA 20-year-old pilot Lt. Virgil P. Kirkham. She was only 14 years old when his P-47 crashed near her home town of Trhanova.

The prevailing conventional wisdom is that we’re short on friends in this world. Don’t believe it. At least not when it comes to the kinds of friends who matter most. My heartfelt thanks to our enduring friends in Plzeň and the Czech Republic.

Reading Breitbart

Friday, April 27, 2012

In reflecting on the untimely loss of Andrew Breitbart, it occurred to me that I should finally get around to reading Righteous Indignation, Andrew’s last book-form message (though I’m sure he didn’t expect or intend it to be his last) to those of us who’ve found that the same things that ate at him day and night, through the nonstop news cycle, keep us awake at night and worrying for our culture too.

Breitbart’s message, and the story of his pioneering work from the early days of Internet news reporting to the present, are inspirational. But at the moment, something else has really seized my attention. Barely two chapters in, I’ve found myself rather floored by an unexpected number of similarities between Andrew’s adolescence and my own: Andrew grew up in Brentwood; I grew up in West L.A., a stone’s throw away. He’s only a couple of years my senior, so we were there at about the same time, and experienced the same culture. We both started out as “default liberals”, vaguely motivated by a similar, culturally cultivated (and reinforced by the friends we had) mis-perception that the political Right was all about being stodgy old mean meanies who aspire to tell other people what to do. (Andrew cited his “natural disdain for the religious right, which had been the ultimate 1980s-era bogeyman”. Funny, we must have been informed by the same media narrative.) Later in life, we each came into contact with new ideas, began educating and informing ourselves without really having the benefit of guidance from (nor the company of) similarly inclined peers, and as a result moved first to libertarian, then to libertarian/“conservative” positions, only to find ourselves relatively alone in our cultural surroundings. We were both fortunate to have incredibly generous and patient parents who let us find our own paths, hanging in there even when we must have seemed all but hopelessly lost in our wanderings in search of self. My family was down-to-earth in a not-so-down-to-earth town. We largely took simple road-trip vacations. I knew Dad had voted for Reagan, but we almost never discussed politics at the dinner table. Same for Andrew on all counts. Andrew waited tables for a time; I earned my spending money working for caterers. We listened to some of the same music. We both spent time in Westwood. Both were frequent and enthusiastic movie-goers who, later in life, would become disillusioned and estranged by Hollywood’s growing cynicism, anti-Americanism, and political left turn. After college, Andrew worked for a movie production company up until the disillusionment hit him. Before college, I’d had thoughts about going into movie production (special effects for futuristic sci-fi movies were of particular interest to me), but now, years later, I’m glad that I didn’t attempt to make my career in a culture that’s become so deeply hostile to my kind. Some of the other places I’ve been have been unfriendly enough as it is.

Hell, Andrew’s family rented their motor home to John Ritter. Why, a close friend of mine used to babysit for John Ritter!

Can’t avoid saying it: Small world.

There are, of course, also plenty of differences between our early paths in life. Andrew’s college experience, which he describes as drinking his way aimlessly through Tulane and surrounding New Orleans for four years, wasn’t much at all like my own. After nearly dropping out of L.A. public high school because I hated it so damn much, then spending four years alternately working, taking UCLA Extension night classes, and doing some self-teaching in the UCLA physics library, I went to college late, but with a focus, drive, and sense of purpose that many of my classmates lacked. Where Andrew chose, under duress at the 11th hour and for lack of a more compelling option, to major in American Studies, I set out to major in physics from day one, and did everything I could to avoid distractions from my physics and supporting math work, taking courses in other departments only when required, or because I needed some less demanding classes to balance the science-work-heavy course load to which I wanted to devote my best efforts. With few exceptions, I did everything but party while I was in school. (I confess to spending some of my parents’ hard-earned tuition dollars taking a West African drumming class. I couldn’t help it. It was the lure of the Feynman mystique.)

Andrew’s awakening and the beginnings of his transformation began much earlier. Compared to him, I’ve been an embarrassingly slow learner. I lived my adolescence pretty oblivious to anything beyond the mainstream narrative that surrounded me (Democrats good, Republicans bad, though I did like that optimistic Reagan fellow, and assumed that everyone else really, at the end of the day, surely must like him and believe in America the way he did, too). A visit to a gloomy Czechoslovakia in 1985, followed by the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the Soviet Union, made strong impressions on me, but I never imagined that the inherent evil of Communism was in any doubt at all to my fellow Americans. We all knew too much about the totalitarian abuses, mediocrity, shortages, and twisted, humanity-crushing culture of fear and suspicion and nonsense it produced, right?

College was where the cognitive dissonance, and perception of a world gone wrong, really began to set in for me. Focused as my coursework was on hard science, I didn’t experience the nihilism of the contemporary humanities mindset at full strength as Andrew did (thankfully), but I saw enough going on around me to begin taking notice — from pedantic PC multicultural pandering and genuflection that, while at times eyeroll-inducing, seemed more or less harmless at first, to the totem pole of designated victim groups, to a classmate in the thrall of an absurd “post-modern” anti-rationalist philosophy that denied the existence of any objective knowledge and wrote off the entirety of scientific achievement through the ages as a “social construct” of “white European males” that we had designed, you know, to help us oppress women and minorities, to the banner celebrating Cuban communist thug Che Guevara on my girlfriend’s roommate’s wall. I began to ask myself: What the ... ? How did this happen? I had been sleeping.

The funny thing is, I remember very distinctly having this feeling walking home from elementary school one day (that’s “grade school” to most of the world outside of L.A., I’ve gathered): I remember thinking about how I didn’t much like subjects such as history, that demanded lots of burdensome memorization. I preferred to stick to topics like math, where one could reason out the answers from a few logical and easily memorized foundational principles instead of having to labor to commit a great deal of loosely relatable knowledge to rote memory. And I remember being perfectly aware, even as I had the thought, that deciding to avoid the study of history to satisfy such mental laziness was not a winning proposition, for that was how we would surely end up repeating the same mistakes. I knew that worse stuff had come before, and was still happening in the world outside the bubble of freedom and prosperity that I lived in, and that by having that kind of thought I was taking the America I was so lucky to inhabit for granted and might well regret it someday. But I also assumed a sort of “end of history” future, where Freedom would of course prevail and, inexorably, expand and spread its light in dark corners to liberate more and more people across the globe. I didn’t expect life to actually call me on my lack of studious appreciation. If anyone then had tried to forewarn me of the battle I’d end up fighting as an adult — for, as Andrew described it, the “soul” of my culture — I’d have laughed them off as plainly insane. Fears of nuclear armaggeddon aside, none of the culture I took for granted seemed to be fundamentally in jeopardy.

It was only after college that I really started to move, gradually, to the right of center. I knew something was wrong with the cultural self-recrimination and cynical attitudes I had encountered, but I had no awareness of similar thinking outside my own until after 9/11, when I eventually (not until a couple of years after 9/11, if I recall correctly) stumbled upon Instapundit and, through Glenn’s blog, The Drudge Report, Steven Den Beste’s "USS Clueless", Bill Whittle’s incomparable "Eject! Eject! Eject!", and other center-right sites and blogs. Excepting the Paul Harvey morning broadcast that my Dad and I had always found amusing while waiting in our parked car for my school bus to pick me up when I was 13 or 14, I had no awareness of talk radio until I started listening to the Instapundit and Pajamas Media podcasts sometime around 2006, I think — eventually learning about Breitbart and what he was doing as part of that. As I said: slow learner.

None of this should be construed in any way as delusions of Breitbartian grandeur. Like the thousands of kindred spirits he so inspired that they enthusiastically declared “#IAmAndrewBreitbart” in Andrew’s defense, when the news of his passing brought forth torrents of Breitbart-hating Twiter vitriol of the very sort that Andrew was known for gleefully retweeting, I feel humbled by his achievements and moral courage — a courage to enter the fray for the sake of what matters, vilification by his bitter detractors be damned, that I can only hope and aspire to find and cultivate in myself. Yet I also feel struck by the notion that, but for the tweaking of a few details here and there, it’s not all that far fetched to imagine that each of us could easily have ended up going down the other’s path, living the other’s life. Maybe that’s overstating it. But I’m feeling a more personal connection to the man’s life and experiences than I was expecting to, and it’s caught me a little off guard, and made me deeply sorry that I didn’t have the chance to meet Andrew and get to know him that others did. What I knew of Andrew through his work had me intrigued and inspired me as it was. Now I fully expect to be glued to this book for a stop-for-nothing straight-through read.

Speaking of Breitbart, and of Instapundit, this is apropos and poignant: Breitbart is Here: The Video.

I’ve also found it heartening to see this around:

Banner: Keep calm. Breitbart expects you to carry on.

Not Dead, Just Resting

Actually, I’ve been doing anything but resting, but this way I get to make a gratuitous parrot sketch reference. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

As my IM status message has indicated persistently for months now, I’ve been “deeply immersed” in my startup venture, which has kept me away from blogging and will likely continue to do so through most of the summer. I miss writing, and there are topics constantly on my mind that I’m chomping at the bit to get to, but I have to prioritize getting a first revenue-generating product finished, polished, and shipped, as my ability to continue doing what I’m doing hinges on demonstrating to my board of directors (read: wife) that I can actually make a respectable income pursuing my pet pipe dream. (I’m also racing against the clock of another “project” we have in the pipe: Our second child is due to arrive in June (!), and I want to be ready to give that venture my full devotion!)

The great news work-wise: I’ve been having the time of my life, am incredibly excited about what I’m working on, and can’t wait for the world to see it. The opportunity to develop an app of my own design, that I myself would love to have and be able to use, has been a reward in itself. Each morning when I climb the stairs to The Office (read: the spare room where I have my workspace set up), coffee in hand, I get to enjoy the feeling and knowledge that I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. For that, there is no substitute, and I am doing everything I can to make the most of it and ensure that I get to continue making great and useful things.

Part of the cost of the project is that it’s going to continue to be mostly quiet around here until I ship. I am really looking forward to beginning to write and post again as soon as I can, but until that becomes something I can start spending time on, I’ll mostly be limited to checking in and micro-posting on Twitter. So look for me there for now, but stay tuned: I’ll be back!