I missed a few of my personal deadlines. John McAfee died (read what Judd had to say here), followed by my friend Steve Horwitz (a man you’ll hear much more about this week), and then former Senator Mike Gravel (whom I greatly respected), all in a very short span of time. I had a million things to do, a holiday, and people to mourn, and I missed my writing obligations.
So I’m back on this week. Here’s my “links” list. Tomorrow or Friday I’ll publish a longer piece about Steve and his work - I’m working on that currently.
Happy Treason Day
Okay, I’m 3 days late, but it was Independence Day this past weekend. I’m not much into the flags or hyper-patriotic displays, and I certainly don’t think my nation is perfect, however I do have a certain love for the day.
In 1776, 56 men committed treason against the Crown. It was an act which was punishable by death. These 56 men signed a document, the Declaration of Independence, which was literally and metaphorically a revolutionary act.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
I am quite aware of the irony of several slave owners drafting and signing a document declaring “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It’s not lost on me.
I recognize that countless people did not get to experience the liberty being declared, and the promise of America has yet to be fully realized for many - however, even by today’s standards and expectations, it’s a powerful document to reread once a year, and for its time and context, it’s utterly profound.
I don’t need to see Jefferson as merely a monster for being a slave owner, nor merely a hero for writing those words. I don’t excuse him for the former “because of the norms of the time”. I don’t ignore the latter because of the former.
It’s simply a reminder. People are complicated, and good people can do bad things and bad people can do good things. That doesn’t make any of those things any less real.
To this day, politicians and public leaders say many wonderful things, while doing many things that are immoral, cruel, or even in opposition to the values they claim to hold. Some people are well-intended and fall short of their own expectations. Some people know how to lie, or forfeit principles for ambition. Most people are some combination.
It’s sometimes hard to tell what we’re dealing with. It’s even hard to tell when viewing history and its figures nearly 250 years later. We can’t see into their minds.
So in these moments, when I don’t know intentions, nor all the details of their lives, I look at a fact of a moment in time:
56 men, ranging in age from 26-70, signed a document declaring their Independence from the British Crown - an act of treason punishable by death.
Amazingly, none of the men died at the hands of the British. Some of these men were captured by the British and imprisoned. Some had their homes ransacked and burned, some lost their families. Some fought in, were wounded in, or lost sons in the Revolutionary War. They sacrificed a lot to do what they believed was right.
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
“we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
Judd and I are hosting a memorial for John McAfee at our home here in Los Angeles on Saturday (July 10th) late afternoon/early evening. We’re setting up a slideshow of some of John’s most entertaining moments on social media (along with pictures, quotes, etc). If you have any to contribute, feel free to email me (applesobrienATgmailDOTcom), Facebook message me, or comment on this post.
If you’re in Los Angeles and would like to attend, please contact me for an invite.
Anniversary Season Begins
On June 27th, 2012, I was on a friend’s Facebook page when I saw an amusing post and left a comment. It turned out he’d been tagged by his friend, a guy named Judd Weiss, which is why the post was on his timeline, but because of it I ended up clicking on Judd’s profile, thought he seemed cool, and sent him a friend request that day. A few weeks later in mid-July, we both attended Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, where Judd invited me to come hang out with him and his friends and I happened to be hanging out with another one of our mutual friends, confirmed that Judd was cool, and we headed over. We hung out, he took lots of pictures of me, and a month later he was in my city again and we had dinner together - our first date, August 22nd, 2012. So I call June 27-August 22nd our “anniversary season”, though October 8th is the first night we took LSD together (and saw The Weeknd and Florence & the Machine in concert), so I often extend it out to October.
I know it’s silly, but I love this man very much, and I often think one of the reasons we’ve lasted nine years now is because we constantly take the time to appreciate each other, be silly and loving to each other, talk about us, and thank each other for everything - even little stuff like when he cleans up after I cook, or I bring in the mail. Even the stuff that’s kind of become our “roles”. I almost always cook: he thanks me every single time anyway. He always pays for our meals out: I thank him every single time anyway. Gratitude is a huge part of our relationship, and being silly and sentimental about our anniversaries gives us this annual reminder to check in with each other in all the many ways to ensure our relationship is as strong and wonderful as it can be.
I’ll probably do a post about us for our anniversary.
I’m confirmed as a speaker at Freedom Fest 2021! I’ve been attending Freedom Fest since 2012 (it’s actually where I first met Judd in person - he was speaking and I was an attendee). It’s usually in Las Vegas, but this year they moved it to Mount Rushmore, South Dakota (not my ideal situation but I’m open to new experiences). I’m speaking, taking photos, am on a few panels AND I’m hosting Friday night karaoke. We’ve got a great Feminists for Liberty panel as well! It’s all happening on July 21-24th in Rapid City. Tickets are available here and for $50 off, use the code Avens50. :)
In Case You Missed It
Each week I get a handful of new signups for this newsletter, and I’m tremendously grateful for them (you!). I often do not know if they went through the archives to check out my previous essays, and I’d rather not bother them (and some of you since the beginning might miss an essay here or there!), so this subsection each week will be at the end of my Tuesday post, so you can skip it if you’ve already seen it or read them all, but will present the long-form essays with a single sentence description in case you missed something and wanted to check it out.
Lead With Gratitude- I explain the game plan with this blog, and thank you for your support.
Choose The Better Story - My life philosophy about building your personal story and making choices.
Judge & Prepare To Be Judged - How “Judgement” does not equal condemnation, and being a discerning person isn’t actually a bad thing, but you should also know who you’re judging for.
Look Beyond Representation - Talking about “representation” as a woman - how its purpose is to eventually render itself irrelevant - let there be so much representation that nobody represents us, because we’re individuals.
Count It All Joy - Remembering a long lost friend, and how she taught me to love by letting go.
Appreciate the Mothers In Your Life - A collection of stories of my own mother.
Ask Yourself What You’d Kill For - Expanding on two concepts that explain my perspective on government & politics.
Lemon Tek Your Mushrooms - An essay about mushroom trips, and how to make them the very best.
Be Kind - An essay about how 30 minutes of my day saved someone’s life, and how I learned about it 2 years later.
Follow Your Heart - The story of me & the boy who convinced me to move to Los Angeles, and how he changed my life forever.
Appreciate the Fathers In Your Life - A bit about my own father and the kind of man he is.
Be A Crazy One - Reflections on my friendship and experiences with John McAfee.
That’s it for today. I’ve got a few great half-written essays for the coming weeks (and travel, so I’m trying to finish them and queue them up so I don’t have to stress while I’m on the road) but I’m really hoping to stick to twice-weekly posts starting now.
I’ve been listening to some Dreamstate Logic lately when I work (and when I wrote this). I haven’t had much time for reading but I’m still slowly making my way through the second Game of Thrones book.
I also have another project being released this month - I’m very excited to tell you all about it soon!