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I guess it's an important eve -- the night before election day 2004. And more about that further down the page. First let's update you on the happenings of the glorious number one.

I'm still employed at Fidelity, and no sir, it's not my dream job. As a matter of fact, I would rank it behind my first stint at PJ's right now in terms of satisfaction. I bought a 2001 Toyota Corolla LE automatic blue 29K miles. Very dull, but thus far dependable and more sellable later on than a brand new Hyundai. I'm fed up with this apartment. Verizon FIOS has its nationwide premier roll out right here in Keller, thirty or forty times faster than DSL, and at rock bottom prices, and I can't even get decent DSL for under $80 here. Some company called One Source has a monopoly on this one complex, right here in the heart of Verizon country. The insulting part is that Verizon keeps sending us FIOS ads each week in the mail. I try to keep up with some of the news and such while at work, but many sites are blocked and it's a violation to use company property for such purposes.

And then there's the gate, the one which is one of the circumstances preventing me from buying the Triumph Speed Four. My car was vandalized last week -- several eggs, the air let out of my front tires, my mail key and gate card and two CDs stolen... Things I've never had happen, and I've never had a gated complex before. Anyway, a modern motorcycle (no, I'm not talking an ancient piece of batshit such as a Harley) has no (or very few) ferrous metal parts and will not trip the gate signal, which means I would not be able to leave unless someone else is coming or going.

There are still the insurance hassles -- on two fronts now. Motorcycle insurance remains ludicrously expensive, but I found out my health insurance doesn't cover accidents and I'm in the process of trying to switch. It's tough to find insurance for someone in my position -- I need no "doctor's visits" insurance or prescription drug coverage, having a physician for a father, and I don't drink, smoke, or consume sugar, salt, or saturated or trans fat beyond nominal quantities. I exercise daily and my vital signs are the best they've been in my entire life. I've been sick exactly one time in the past five years. Why should I pay insurance rates intended for the average fatass schmoe when I'm considerably better than average?

Among the vast array of rules Fidelity imposes is a prohibition from doing, well, pretty much what I'm doing right now. That is, I'm not allowed to have a blog! I'm making an exception because, well, I don't give a shit and this isn't a regular feature.

It's cold outside, and my bicycle riding days are coming to a hiatus. Riding in Keller just plain sucks compared to Denton. There's nowhere to go, nothing interesting to ride around. Still, it was one of the activities I enjoyed and now the chill night air is ruining it. I don't get home until 11:30. My company now owns 22% of Google, in a roundabout way.

A recent Newsweek article on motorcycles mentioned that the new ZX-10R is so fast, it can out-accelerate a Ferrari from 0-60 mph! No shit. Find me one production sportbike model from the past 15 years that can't. The 10R is the current state of the art in streetbikes, but beating a 2004 Ferrari to 60 is something bikes of early 80s were capable of. There are several other laughable inaccuracies in the article, and the point is that when Newsweek does a story on something I know a lot about, I can plainly see that they get both the little details and the big picture completely wrong... now what about all those other articles I'm no expert on? Should I even trust a word of it? Pitiful.

That Autumns CD finally came out and it's rather good. Not as cohesive an effort as ...Vain Hour, but memorable in many places. I've been enjoying the first Autumns album, the third Failure, the latest Shins, the Sheila Divine EP, Pinback, the belated fourth Muse album (but only the second released in the US, puzzlingly), and others.

I saw Sky Captain and enjoyed some of the vistas but ultimately yawned. It's the only movie I've seen in the past five months in person or on DVD, although I've seen a couple trailers that looked pretty good.

The Cowboys suck and are hardly worth mentioning, the Yankees lost, hockey is dead (good riddance), and basketball starts tomorrow night. I own a small LCD television which gets a couple of channels. I've calculated the first Mavs game I'll get to watch as December 26, nearly two months into the season (I work all the time and get home at 11:30). So maybe I won't be much of a fan for lack of opportunity.

The only game I've really played is Dark Cloud 2 on PS2 and it's a bit disappointing. Proving Grounds died. Argh I miss the ole UT days. Those truly were the good days. Last Summer was full of good days as well. I haven't really unpacked most of my stuff even after three months here. I don't plan to stay too long. I'll find a smaller place without a gate, WITH decent unmonopolized internet access, maybe with fewer vandalizing teenagers. The only piece of furniture in my entire apartment is my mattress, which is sorely in need of replacement. The "living room" is full boxes.

Why is it that when a customer tells me her account number or social security number, she reels it off in 1.3 seconds, but when I'm giving a stock quote or account balance or phone number or address, I have to read it off sloooowly bit by bit?

I'm still sorta reading Girl With Curious Hair and I bought Me Talk Pretty One Day and started it, but mostly I have to read financial news for work, training manuals for work, and then I get several magazines each week including Newsweek, Autoweek, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated, Wired, Cycle World, Men's Health, Motorcyclist, Car & Driver, Road & Track, National Geographic, EGM, Game Informer, and some others.

As for this election, I'm not voting. It's not like 1992, when I didn't know jack about anything and probably shouldn't have been allowed to vote, or 1996, when I really believed in Bob Dole and thought he might make a great President, or 2000, when my vote was a vote against the other guy (algore). This two-party vote isn't between a conservative and a liberal, it's between two big government liberals. How should I differentiate? Why would I throw my vote behind either one of these? Kerry isn't bad enough to make me have to want to vote against him. President Bush is a crushing disappointment as a so-called conservative.

I watched the first three of four debates. Not surprisingly, nobody said much of anything that I wanted to hear. President Bush feigned a little concern over big government spending, but it's incredibly hollow in the face of his blighted record. What's amazing is that while none of these candidates is dumb, they talk down to us as if WE are. I will probably go into this further in a few days, but things like Canadian drugs, tax cuts, tort reform, outsourcing, stem cell research, the dividend tax, etc. are presented so simplistically and shallowly that the arguments "for" and "against" have little meaning, beyond what you can convince the gullible to believe.

George Will thinks it could be many months before a new President is decided on...

Government has grown up to be viewed either as a "wet-nurse," catering to every cry and moan with myriad remedies and trying to ensure everyone gets everything handed to them when they "can't" do it themselves (on the liberal/Democratic side)... or as a preaching, overbearing, watchful, reproachful father, telling you everything you can and can't do on moral grounds (on the conservative/Republican side)...

There was a time when the ideal government was viewed as simply the "night watchman," taking care of a few things in the background, stepping in only when absolutely necessary, protecting the borders, and generally leaving the people the heck alone, free to self-govern. That government governs best which governs least. Those days, when more than a small minority of the population felt that way, are long gone.

I've heard the idea that a libertarian ought vote not for the Libertarian Party but for an opposition candidate. In other words, if I believe the Republicans will hold a majority in Congress over the next few years, it would follow that I would vote for the Democrat for President. Cooperation in government is bad; the more impediments to new laws and spending programs, the better, and a united Congress and Executive Branch provides a worst-case scenario for big government.

Anyway, the following piece was written on Friday by Jonathan from Catallarchy.net, the other blog I used to write for. Jonathan is a "pure" libertarian whereas I describe myself as a "practical" libertarian. But see what you think.

Politics is the institutionalized means of coercion by which a single view of the good is imposed upon all. In a democracy, politics is determined by voting. Politics means others being able to tell you what you can do with your body. It means your neighbors being able to direct how you use your property and what kinds of things your children are allowed to learn. It means others being able to dictate what you do with your home, what you can charge to sell your things, what kind of doctor you visit, what kinds of opinions you can express, and whom you can form relationships with.
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Micha’s and my plans to not vote tomorrow generated a lot of discussion. Matt McIntosh of Versimilitude calls my post “idealistic” and references John Lennon’s song Imagine. He furthers compares my stance to that of a pacifist. Yet, I am neither an idealist nor a pacifist. I am a pragmatist, and pragmatism is precisely what leads me to my radical viewpoints. If I thought that my single vote would result in some measure of tangible benefit that outweighed the strong subjective dissatisfaction I would experience by casting it, I would carry it out. This is not Afghanistan where voting would be an act of defiance against tyranny. Nor is this a war in which laying down arms unilaterally would mean death. Voting in the United States is merely an act of expression with no instrumental power, regardless of what the government schools say about ‘making a difference’ or ‘civic duty’. Those who believe that voting has instrumental value are the idealists, not me. They are the ones ‘imagining’ another reality that doesn’t exist.

Diana of The Write Wing asks in the comments below, “Let me ask you, who will hear your silence on Tuesday, Jonathan?” From what I can gather, Diana resides in Michigan. Michigan has approximately 7 million registered voters and during the last presidential election, approximately 4 million of them voted. Based on current polling data, here is a hypothetical approximation of what the vote tally will be based on Diana’s potential votes:

If Diana votes for Kerry:

Kerry2,051,24850%
Bush1,927,31447%
Nader409,2481%
Others734,8422%

If Diana votes for Bush:

Kerry2,051,24750%
Bush1,927,31547%
Nader409,2481%
Others734,8422%

If Diana votes for Nader:

Kerry2,051,24750%
Bush1,927,31447%
Nader409,2491%
Others734,8422%

Whose voice will be heard Tuesday? Surely not Diana’s by her vote.

A couple thousand Catallarchy readers will hear my silence, and it will be louder than any vote I could cast.

Frequent commenter Scott writes, “so you plan to do what, just post on the internet the rest of your life? i understand the urge to rage against the machine here, but i find your attitude much too defeatist. what, if anything, do you actually plan to accomplish?” My attitude is not defeatist. I’m one of the most optimistic libertarians you’ll ever meet. Again, I am choosing to actively refrain from voting. It is not out of desperation nor resignation. The only thing voting accomplishes at the individual level is a small measure of self-expression than can set an example for others. It has no instrumental value. I want to express the view that politics is a never-ending fixed-sum game that would be better left not played at all. By voting for the Libertarian Party, I would be expressing the idea that politics is okay but that the wrong people are in power. That is not what I want to express. I want to express the idea that structures of government should allow differing conceptions of the good to coexist peacefully regardless of the people holding office. Further, I want to express the consequence of that idea– that civil society should be the center of social interaction, not politics.

The only way to view not voting as defeatist is to believe that voting has instrumental value and that change can only happen from within the system. I disagree with both ideas. Democracy does not breed liberty. At best it stalls tyranny better than its predecessors. The liberty we have today did not come about directly because people voted for it. It came about because people believe that a free society is in their best interests, and because technology keeps a check on state power. Most Americans realize that banning speech that they are not in favor of would likely mean that their own speech could be similarly banned in the future - “I may not agree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.” They realize that allowing the government to torture people means that they themselves could be on the receiving end of that torture someday. The reason atrocities, mass graves, pogroms, etc do not happen in America is because of the culture of liberty that exists. Spreading ideas is much more instrumentally valuable at the margin than casting a vote. So yes, I do plan to post on the internet for the forseeable future. It will acccomplish much more than pulling a lever every four years for the rest of my life.

The most defeatist libertarians I know are the ones who believe that the only way for a more libertarian society to come about is for the Libertarian Party to win elections. They see no other way towards freedom. They get depressed every four years when the Party fails to make any gains. Yet, there are many other ways of taking steps toward a free society than voting, though voting may bring a false sense of self-satisfaction. Homeschoolers have been gaining the right to educate their the way they see fit by simply refusing to allow the professional child abductors to have their way. Phil Zimmerman single-handedly created more freedom for the average individual than the entire Libertarian Party did during the 1990’s. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been defending our freedoms online since its inception. The Mises Institute and Cato Institute generate scholarship, fund conferences, and advocate liberty better than any politicians do. Send them a check. Write a computer program that incorporates asymmetric cryptography in a user friendly way into popular applications. Become a journalist that challenges the status quo. Work for change from within academia. Produce a television series that inspires self-reliance and personal responsibility. Start a blog. But most importantly, live your life and demonstrate to others that though the state may infringe on your autonomy, it cannot define your happiness nor your relationships with people that matter to you.

The future of liberty lies not with politics, but with technology and ideas.

Stay tuned, I'll return in a couple of days with more.