Some musical thoughts

On the way to the library today, I was listening to some music on my little mp3 player, which is really cheap and doesn’t last very long before it has be to charged again. Anyway, it was one of my favorite albums.

I own a five-CD set of music from Disney movies, and Disc 5 is one of my favorites. Several of the early songs are either very spiritual or have an emotional aspect of them that approaches spirituality for me.

It starts off with “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”, from Mulan, sung by Donny Osmond (probably one of the most famous Mormons in the world), though it wasn’t a very spiritual song. Then comes “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” from Hercules, which I also love, and then the most spiritual song, “God Help the Outcasts” from Hunchback of Notre Dame (sung by the character Esmerelda, as a prayer). Track 4 is “If I Can’t Love Her” from the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast, and then another spiritual song, “Steady as the Beating Drum” from Pocahontas. Then one of my favorite songs, “Belle” from Beauty and the Beast. By the way, I recently borrowed that movie from the library, and loved every minute of it (except when they are going after the Beast). I love to listen to this type of music over and over, and am glad to be able to write about it.

I better stop now, only 3 minutes left online. More later, tchau.

Status and thoughts on a very productive day

(Written at home) Anyway, it’s time to head to the library now. To conserve my precious internet time, I wrote several posts on my still marginally-functioning laptop computer, which no longer is capable of connecting to the internet, or playing music or the sound from movies. That’s because it doesn’t let me log in except in Safe Mode, where these things are turned off.

 

I wrote 4 blog posts at home before coming here to the library, that was very useful. I just had to add the internet links after I got here.

Stay tuned for one more today, some thoughts on music.

My scientific interests

2015 has been an exciting year in astronomy, which I have been interested in since I was a kid. I earned the astronomy merit badge when I was a boy scout, along with most of the other nature-related badges.

Two exploration space missions by NASA reached their most exciting point in the last six months. In April, the spaceship Dawn reached its second study location. It had previously orbited the large asteroid called Vesta. Now, for one year, it is orbiting the largest asteroid, Ceres (which is also the smallest dwarf planet, and the largest object in the Main Asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter), obtaining all kinds of images and other data.

The most exciting event was just over a month ago. In mid-July, the spaceship New Horizons finally reached the dwarf planet Pluto (which was considered a planet for 76 years, from its discovery in 1930 until the astronomy conference in 2006 which created the category of dwarf planet). For those who don’t know, a planet has three characteristics – it is rounded by its own rotation, it orbits the sun directly, and since this 2006 conference, it also has to have “cleared its orbit”, meaning there are no similar-size or larger objects in its same orbital area. Pluto fails the third test, and so it is called a dwarf planet.

But there was still a lot of interest in getting a good look at it. Our best images from the Hubble Space Telescope, in orbit around the Earth, were not all that good. The New Horizons will be sending back its data for about 18 months, as it moves toward a rendezvous with another Kuyper belt object (that is the name for the ring of objects including Pluto, that are just beyond the orbit of the planet Neptune).

Anyway, I was super-excited about these astronomy events, almost as excited as I am whenever my church announces a new temple.

My religion

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also commonly known as Mormons, though we tend not to use this nickname among ourselves. We usually say members, LDS for short, or sometimes Saints (a term we understand to mean all the members of Christ’s church, not used in the Catholic sense of a really holy person classified as such by the church). I was born and raised in this church, and though I am not always great at following all of the church’s teachings, I still believe in those things.

We have thirteen articles of faith that summarize our beliefs. These were written by our first prophet, Joseph Smith Jr, who lived from 1805 – 1844. He had a vision and saw God and Jesus Christ in a grove of trees near his home in western New York when he was 14 years old. Later, when he was 17, he was visited by an angel named Moroni who told him of a buried record that God wanted him to translate. He was tested and instructed by Moroni for 4 years before being allowed to take the gold plates, and in 1829 he finished the translation of the new book of scripture. The Book of Mormon was published in 1830, the same year that Joseph was instructed to formally organize the church.

We believe the Book of Mormon is scripture, alongside the Bible. It contains an account of two groups of people, two nations, who resided in the Americas in ancient times, and tells of their spiritual heritage, their revelations from God, portions of their history, and of their visit by Jesus Christ shortly after his resurrection in Jerusalem.

To us Mormons, the idea of personal and continuing revelation is very important. We have apostles who lead the church, with the head apostle being the president of the Church and also called our prophet. We have had 16 prophets since 1830, and are today led by a man named Thomas S Monson.

Twice a year, in April and October, we have something called a General Conference, where all the church leaders in Salt Lake City, Utah, gather for five 2-hour meetings and speak to the members of the church. These conferences are broadcast all around the world on the church’s satellite system, and also on the internet, and on many radio and TV stations. I download the audio and some video files from the church’s main website, www.lds.org. Last night I was listening to one of the sessions on a portable device while I was at work. I really enjoy being able to carry these messages with me. I also use this for liberty-related content including all the podcasts I follow faithfully every week.

As part of the LDS faith, we follow a code of health called the Word of Wisdom, revealed by God to Joseph Smith in 1833. It includes several statements about things that are good for the body, and also bans a few things, saying they are not good for you. These are strong drink (alcohol), tobacco, and hot drinks (always interpreted since the second President of the Church, Brigham Young, to mean coffee and tea). It is understood to be part of the spirit of the Word of Wisdom that illegal drugs are also banned by it, or abuse of prescription drugs. It will be interesting to see what happens if church members are found to be using marijuana legally under a medical program – which technically doesn’t fall under the category of illegal drugs, except for the fact that the federal government refuses to move it from Schedule 1 controlled drug to Schedule 2.

The Word of Wisdom also says we should use meat sparingly, eat fruits and vegetables in season, and says that grain is good for food. I do have some questions about this part, but the church doesn’t really try to enforce the nutritional aspects of the revelation.

The Word of Wisdom is found in another book of scripture, called the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains modern revelations from God (mostly received by Joseph Smith prior to his murder in 1844). It is found in Section 89 of the D & C. Besides the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants, we have a small 4th book of scripture, another “standard work” called the Pearl of Great Price, which came about around the 1850s and became scripture in 1880. It contains writings and works of Joseph Smith that were not in the Doctrine and Covenants. The first reference I gave you, to the Articles of Faith, is in the Pearl of Great Price.

In addition to those 4 books of scripture, as I mentioned we believe in continuing revelation. This is one of the most important doctrines of our church, which distinguishes us from many other Christian faiths. Everyone is entitled to receive revelation from God, in our belief. In addition, our prophets and apostles receive revelation for governing the church. The general conference talks by apostles are poured over by members to find personal guidance, though they are not formally canonized as scripture they are the next best thing. We also believe the leadership receives revelation about policies for the church, and locations to build new temples and assign missionaries, for instance. I will write about the church’s temples in another post, but this is one of my big hobbies.

You will see more about my religious beliefs in future posts, but I just wanted to give a brief introduction today.

 

My great weekend

Last weekend was really enjoyable. On Friday, I went with a neighbor to a friend’s house in my town. He hangs out with us and we watch movies, play boardgames, or video games, and I use his computer. I am able to supplement my 3-4 times a week visit to the library to get in a little more time on the internet. Each day I go to the library, I am limited to one hour on the internet, unfortunately. I am going again today to get in some stuff I have been meaning to do.

On Saturday, I got to see some friends I hadn’t seen in over a year. They used to live in Rochester, but moved to Concord in 2014. Anyway, they had a pool party at their house, and I drove up with my “borrowed” neighbor kid. I hadn’t been swimming in at least 5 years, but it was fun. Besides the host family, and the two of us, I think there were eight other people there, with all of the adults being participants in or friends of the Free State Project. Some of the people just hung around and ate for 2-3 hours and then left, but some of us went swimming in my friend’s nice in-ground pool, and we also played some of my boardgames. We started with two of my party games, which I wanted to get in because they are made for larger groups and are a lot of fun to play. In fact, several of the participants who don’t normally like games liked the two we played, especially the second game. We played Big Picture Apples to Apples, followed by Wits and Wagers Party. After three more people left, it was just my neighbor, myself, and the three members of the host family who were there. As it was getting dark, we moved inside and proceeded to play two more of my games, Boss Monster and Forbidden Desert (that one is called a “cooperative game” because you are working with the other players, not trying to win individually).

I would have taken a bunch of pictures, but I didn’t know where my camera was at the time. Anyway, if I am able to go to a repeat event, look for some pictures to come to this blog.

By the way, the boardgame links above are all to a wonderful website called boardgamegeek.com, which is both an encyclopedia and social networking site for boardgamers. The same company also has video game and role-playing game versions of the website. My name on BGG is the same as the name of this webpage, brycenh. You can see all the games I own at this link.

Why am I in favor of medical marijuana laws?

Yesterday, I read something interesting in the local newspaper, when I was at the library. I live in the town of Milton, NH, and just to the south of my town is the small city of Rochester, NH, which has about 30,000 people. I go to the library there, which is rather nice, though it costs me to have a library card. It seems that Rochester is under consideration to be one of the four cultivation locations for the state’s new medical marijuana program. The company that wants to have their grow operation there is proposing to run their legal dispensary in the town of Plymouth, a considerable distance away. I have to wonder, since they’re so concerned with the security of the cultivation location, whether it makes sense to have to transport the product such a large distance.

Anyway, I am in favor of legalizing marijuana, and medical use is a first step in that direction. I take this position even though I am against the use of drugs and don’t use any major drugs myself, legal or illegal, for religious reasons. More about my religious beliefs later.

Why is the freedom to use marijuana and other drugs important to libertarians?

If you read my first post on libertarianism, I mentioned the website theadvocates.org, where you can find the World’s Smallest Political Quiz, and one of the questions has to do with drugs. As a libertarian, I believe that it is immoral to use coercion against others except in a defensive way. Banning drugs is imposing your will on others by force, or at least by delegating the right to use force to the government, so I am against it.

By the way, think about this. Can you go to your neighbor’s house and take his property or kidnap him because he is using a particular drug? Do you even have the right to do such a thing? If not, then how can you authorize the government police and other officials to do it? How can you delegate a power that you do not yourself have, to another person or group of people? This is something the advocates of drug prohibition cannot answer. The power to prosecute drug possession or sales does not arise magically out of having a large group of people who agree. Unless you have unanimous agreement, you can’t make that restriction as a group.
As a libertarian, I do not believe that democratic elections magically bestow power on governments that the individuals voting do not themselves possess. If you think there is a good argument against what I am saying, please feel free to comment (provided I have set this up properly to allow comments, of course).

Freecoasters (Seacoast Liberty)

I just purchased my ticket for an upcoming event called the Freecoast Festival, which will be held from September 17 – 20 in Portsmouth, Newmarket, and Hampton, New Hampshire. I had been signed up on the Facebook event for a while.

What is the organization called the Freecoasters, formerly called Seacoast Liberty? It is a group of people who advocate for liberty that live in the Seacoast Region of New Hampshire, including for some reason cities like Dover and Rochester that don’t actually border the ocean (though they are very close to it, this is something that has always baffled me). It also refers to a group and cause on Facebook, and another group on meetup.com, which is where the regular events get listed and where people can RSVP (sometimes they are double-posted on the Facebook group). I host an event on the meetup page, once a month in Rochester, on the second Saturday evening of each month. I won’t link to the event because the link would change every month. Just go to the meetup link above and scroll down until you find the next Rochester event to see it.

Besides these social networking organizations, the Freecoasters also have a webpage, called freecoast.org. But basically, it’s just a bunch of individual libertarians living in a region of New Hampshire, near each other. We libertarians tend to have a lot of competing organizations and operate in a very decentralized way. I think this is something our political opponents don’t understand about us.

Welcome (and forgive the roughness)

I just published the website today, although I created it and started posting a few days ago. Please forgive some roughness, as I will be tweaking the appearance and adding content on a somewhat sporadic basis, due to the fact that my laptop is no longer able to access the internet.

I just read a great article about the top 25 libertarian movies of all time. It’s on a website I’ve never been to before, missliberty.com.

I have downloaded my favorite podcasts today, for another week of listening pleasure. I will write more about each of these shows later. The shows I downloaded are The Tom Woods Show, The Peter Schiff podcast, Neocash Radio, Chris Cantwell’s Radical Agenda (which includes a lot of swearing and some controversial opinions, fyi),

Feel free to comment on any of my posts. I do ask that you keep your comments constructive and specific, and avoid insulting language. I will be continuing the introductory posts for some time but will intersperse posts about news and current events within the NH liberty community.

Thanks for coming to my site, and let me know if there is something you think I can do to improve it!

What is the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance?

I am a supporter (and I believe I have the free membership) in an organization called the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance, a nonpartisan political advocacy group that works to monitor and advise the state legislature here in New Hampshire.

They do some amazing things. They have dozens to hundreds of volunteers. Together, they read EVERY SINGLE piece of legislation that is proposed in the State House and State Senate. They make recommendations on which bills are anti-liberty or pro-liberty, and on how much of an impact on liberty each bill has. Then, during the active part of each legislative season (roughly January through June), they put out a one-page flyer called the Gold Standard which is given to each member of the legislature, at least those who will take one. This is quite an accomplishment in itself, since the lower house of the legislature, formally known as the General Court, has 400 members (it is one of the largest legislatures in the English-speaking world, I believe 4th behind the US Congress, British Parliament, and Indian Congress).

As if this is not enough, at the end of the legislative season, the NHLA rates every member of the 2 houses and gives them a grade, how pro-liberty were they, with the grades going from A+ all way down to F and beyond to a grade called CT, Constitutional Threat.

The NHLA also has someone who coordinates service projects. The organization also produces bumper stickers, puts on an annual dinner in which they release the grades and honor the top legislator and activist for the year. There is also a website, nhliberty.org. I suggest you check it out, especially if you’re in New Hampshire or if you want to see how effective state level political action can be.

This organization is one of the main mechanisms for Free Staters (a colloquial term for participants in the Free State Project) to get involved in political activism after they move, and there is a lot of overlap in the membership rolls, but it would be a mistake to call this a Free Stater organization. Officially, the Free State Project doesn’t tell its members how to get involved in bringing about a more free society after moving, but is just the vehicle to get people of a liberty mindset here to the US.

In a future post I will write about this year’s Liberty Rating from the NHLA.

What is the Free State Project

Hello, this is Bryce again.

 

I am a participant in the Free State Project. What, exactly, does that mean?

I’m just going to basically define the project here. I’ll deal with objections in future posts.

I have been a libertarian for many years, but about 4 years ago, I moved from the western US to the state of New Hampshire.

The Free State Project is an effort to convince 20,000 people who share a common view of what society should be like (based on voluntary interaction, not the force of government) to pool their efforts in one relatively small place. The project started with an essay written in 2001 by a graduate student in political science, Jason Sorens (now a political science professor at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH), in which he proposed the 20,000 number and said that the target state should be one with a population of less than 2 million people. I believe there are 12 states in the US that meet this criterion, but ultimately only ten were put in the vote in 2003. Two of the states, Hawaii and Rhode Island, were considered to have state governments that were too corrupt to even contemplate trying to reform them. The other ten states were put up for a vote. New Hampshire won the vote as being the best state to make this effort, with Wyoming taking second place. The other states that were considered were Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Vermont, and Maine. I think I have those right.

 

If you want to know something about why New Hampshire was such a popular choice, see the video 101 Reasons to Move to New Hampshire.

If you want to know why I personally felt this was a worthwhile effort, here is a brief explanation of it. I will write a post at another time saying why I feel so strongly about libertarianism.

I could see that voting for libertarians rarely accomplished anything. Outside of New Hampshire, libertarians rarely get elected to anything, unless they run in the Republican or Democrat Parties (even that is a rarety, excepting the wonderful libertarianish figure of Ron Paul, the former Congressman and 3-times candidate for President who, frankly, deserves his own post on this blog). Even when libertarians are elected, it tends to be only to a few very local offices, town or city level for the most part. This effort, of concentrating libertarians from all over the US in one state has changed that, and I am glad to be part of this effort to achieve “Liberty in Our Lifetime”.

I was living in Utah, frequently visiting family who lived just across the border in Colorado, and wishing I could do something to advance the cause of liberty. Then I learned of the Free State Project, and bam! There was something I could do. I saved up my money for a few years before making the move, but in September 2011 I packed up my belongings and made the long trek from Colorado to New Hampshire.