Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 765, April 6, 2014

"...bandits and governments have so
much in common that they might be
interchangeable anywhere in the world."

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When Hell Freezes Over: Winter's Grip Is Broken!
by Jeff Fullerton

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

The original title of this article was going to be Winter's Grip Loosens ; but things were so up in the air for the last two months with warm spells followed by major snow events that kept throwing monkey wrenches into my plans on top of making me hesitant to comment on the weather situation that was in a continual state of flux. Bringing to mind that quote of opera house fame: it ain't over till the buxom blonde in the Viking helmet sings!

And then I had to comment on other matters that I felt to be of greater importance than the final fits of Norseman's Hell—that by time I finally got around to commenting; it was gone. Finally!

Old Man Winter....
Don't let the buckshot hit you on the way out the door!

March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb with some really nice weather followed by a late snow last weekend that blanketed the ground for a day and then was gone as a rapid warmup ensued. The middle of the week was great for outside work. Snow Trillium, Snowdrops and Crocus were in bloom. Wood Frogs and Spring Peepers in full chorus! I got the leaf netting off my ponds and cleaned lots of leaves out of my watercourse and broke ground on the renovation of an old turtle pen that will be future home to the Japanese Wood Turtles mentioned in my previous article. The greenhouse which had almost exhausted its supply of propane fuel made it and is now coasting on its own thermal balance and passive solar input. I may run the greenhouse off the outside furnace tonite when it is supposed to dip into the 20s and maybe on the chilly sunless days ahead. I still have some firewood left from my original stockpile and some downed trees that can be cut up while on vacation which starts today.

It promises to be a relaxing week in Porchville as I have no plans to go anywhere. Under more ideal circumstances I would be getting ready to hit the road for Apalachicola or Wilmington—especially now that I have a more reliable car again. But that money was already spent on a my new turtle investment which has sort of become the focal point of a change in direction as far as personal aims and hobbies go. This long hard winter was a great incubator for new ideas as I struggled to keep my head above water—like the time the furnace pump went bad and I found myself driving though drifts of blowing snow in the back of beyond to get a replacement! I thought long and hard about where I had been and what I had accomplished through the years and what I might still accomplish this coming season and the years to come. I realized that while I had come to a dead end in some of the things that are the primary passion in my life—it was still possible to shift gears and chart a new course.

For many years I was a purist in many ways as far things hobby related go. I wanted native species and specific biotype setups—but in recent years I have come to understand how limiting such a mentality can be. Especially when it comes to growing or keeping things that are difficult to maintain or complicated by government regulations. I had awesome successes with some of my favorite native turtle species—but as the authorities gradually imposed stricter limits over the years—I found myself in a position where I could not even talk of my accomplishments openly anymore and had to live in fear. I had long predicted that such an authoritarian atmosphere would stifle innovation and the exchange of information among reptile keepers and other hobbyists dealing in live goods. Just this morning my friend Ray echoed that sentiment in his response to a link I sent him to an article from the California Turtle & Tortoise Society on the natural history and husbandry of another exotic species—the Chinese Golden Box Turtle which I have also taken interest in.

A very comprehensive work that tells any prospective turtle enthusiast everything he or she might want to know about this little living treasure. And to think how much knowledge there is about many other rare species that could be more openly disseminated were it not for the repression on the part of the authorities that makes me understand why scientists in the former Soviet Union often had to attend international conferences just to find out what colleagues within their own country were doing! I can almost come to envy Californians for having at least the freedom to keep things that I'm no longer allowed to have. I'm sure it is a good escape and distraction from the other aspects of an authoritarian deep blue state whose only other saving grace is a nice climate. At least in comparison to Pennsylvania.

As for things in Turtledom and other stuff in general—willingness to be flexible has opened up a whole new exciting frontier for me in the way of getting to work with things I know little about and also the opportunity to share more openly the fruits of my accomplishments. And maybe I can contribute to reversing the infringements on the freedoms of current and future generations of hobbyists. Given the potential energy and creativity of individual hobbyists—I know from both personal experience as well as the accomplishments of others that if the current regulatory nightmares were ended—within a decade—if not sooner—the majority of all rare species of any living creature with commercial appeal would become common again. At least in captive collections. And conserving them in the wild with a more interdisciplinary approach will work better than the current "our way or the highway approach". Which was described by my friend—the plantsman Don Hackenberry as "Never achieve by persuasion what you can always fail to achieve by force".

And another problem to be addressed is the issue of the "decaying berries" within the reptile hobby and similar fields of pursuit—a term I have picked up from a recent reading of Brightsuit MacBear which I finally got around to late this winter after all these years! Decaying berries was the term used by the alien Taflak character to describe other tribes or individuals of his species gone bad who were doing the bidding of dubious outside interests against their fellow Taflak. And that certainly applies to some fellow reptile and fish enthusiasts who have jumped onto the bandwagon of the very same authoritarians that want to destroy everything we all hold dear. Subject for future writings.

Along with the more positive topic related to the unleashing of human creativity that can solve any problem. Which I need to do for the remainder of this afternoon and the days following.

Spring is finally here. It is still winter in the cycle of human affairs—but there are signs it too may be coming to an end. Like the late afternoon sun breaking through the clouds on a dreary day.

The sooner, the better!

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