Apr 212017
 
Any act of self-sufficiency in common with community is an act of rebellion.” – Drew Philp

I’m sure Drew Philp self-identifies as a liberal, a Democrat, a progressive, or some combination of the three.  But, in my mind, he’s clearly a Libertarian, if not an outright anarchist.  I first read Mr. Philp’s story back in 2014 when BuzzFeed ran his feature article “Why I Bought A House In Detroit For $500.”  At 23, in his final year of college at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, disenchanted with the path he saw America following, Mr. Philp moved into the Poletown neighborhood of Detroit and started to build a life of meaning for himself.

“It would be only one house out of thousands, but I wanted to prove it could be done, prove that this American vision of torment could be built back into a home. I also decided I would do it the old-fashioned way, without grants or loans or the foundation money pouring into the city. I would work for everything that went into the house, because not everyone has access to those resources. I also wanted to prove to myself and my family I was a man.”

Mr Philp’s article was an inspiration and a source of renewed hope that there were still people in the United States who understood the road to both personal happiness and a healthier society was not being built by politicians or government programs, but by individuals – one day at a time.

Over the last couple of years Mr. Philp expanded that article into a book, A $500 House In Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City, which I just finished reading.  The conversational writing makes for easy reading and I finished its 300 pages in about 8 hours.  Along with the heart-warming (and occasionally heart-wrenching) tales of living in poverty while struggling to rebuild a devastated (and literally trashed) house into a home once again he shares numerous first hand accounts of government harming individuals in the name of helping “progress”.

From the folly of eminent domain-

“In the early ’80s, the entire north half of the neighborhood was demolished to make way for a 362-acre auto plant, heavily subsidized by the city, state, and federal governments. More than 4,000 residents were eminent-domained from their property; 1,400 homes, several churches, and 140 businesses were razed to make way for the promise of three shifts of work a day. 

“Approximately 6,500 jobs were promised at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant plant in exchange for demolishing half the neighborhood. At its peak employment, roughly 3,500 people worked there, less than the number of people kicked out of their homes to build it. Fewer than 1,500 people work there today.”

To the literal disenfranchisement of everyone living in America’s 18th largest city-

“The governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, appointed Detroit an emergency financial manager with autocratic control over the city’s finances and major decisions. In the United States of America, I am not, nor are any of my neighbors, able to select who will lead us locally. We have a mayor, but he can’t do anything aside from what the emergency manager tells him he can.”

But it’s not just the failures of government that have become evident to this young man trying to build his own American dream.  Social Justice Warriors made their impotence just as visible-

“That summer, 2010, the United States Social Forum, a sort of ideological precursor to Occupy Wall Street, was held for a week in Detroit. More than 20,000 people came into the city from around the world, slept in tents, went to classes and discussions, drank and partied, networked. I would have liked to see more of the Social Forum, but I was working on my house and cooking at a French restaurant.

“One of the events I did see was a march staged by professional protest coordinators who had come in from California opposing Detroit’s trash incinerator, the largest in the United States.  We have an asthma hospitalization rate three times the national average.  The protest would march down Detroit’s main thoroughfare and past the incinerator with hundreds of spray-painted sunflower pickets, miniature incinerators, and signs, presumably raising holy hell and sticking it to the man.

“I guess no one saw the irony in cutting down real pine trees to make fake sunflowers. Or that a protest to demand clean air would use so much aerosol spray paint. But the real irony came when the Social Forum was over and it was time for the out-of-towners to leave for the next protest.

What are you going to do with all this stuff?” we asked.

Why don’t you just recycle it?” they said.

Where?

“They left it all [behind] and split, leaving it for us to deal with. Now we had another pile of trash to clean up and nowhere for it to go. So while they were gallivanting off to the next good deed, that shit went into the incinerator and into our lungs.”

And then there’s the story of a group of art students who set up camp on Mr. Philp’s lawn while he’s at work one day.  When his neighbors inform them that they are trespassing their response is “you don’t understand. We’re helping.” By setting up easels and painting pictures of his house being rehabbed?  Upon his return from work he asks them to leave and the teacher refuses, yelling at him: “But I taught at Harvard.”  There is no thought to calling the police, of course, and no need as his neighbors came out en masse to help him defend his property. Luckily, he was able to diffuse the situation before the neighborhood residents and the invading art students came to blows – but just barely.

Near the end of his book Mr. Philp points out that, despite living “in Detroit’s east side, which reporters describe as ‘bombed out’ and like ‘Mogadishu,’” a place that “even the police say is ‘war-like… unsafe for visitors,’” he’s only had a gun pointed at his face three times in is life.  All three times by police officers.

“But there’s another Detroit, too, of which I am but a small part. It’s been happening quietly and for some time, between transplants and natives, black and white and Latino, city and country — tiny acts of kindness repeated thousands of times over, little gardens and lots of space, long meetings and mowing grass that isn’t yours. It’s the Detroit that’s saving itself. The Detroit that’s building something brand-new out of the cinders of consumerism and racism and escape.”

They key thing about that “other Detroit”, the one in which Mr. Philp and his neighbors live, is that it’s the Detroit of the people.  And they’re accomplishing those things despite the government, not because of it.  Which is what truly makes this story so powerful.  These people have changed the world, and are continuing to do so, not by asking other people to change anything, not by using the force of government to change anything, but by changing themselves and their environment each and every day.  Their lives are a shining example to all and the living embodiment of being the change they want to see in the world.

If you have friends or relatives who just can’t wrap their brains around the concept of healthy society without government I highly recommend you give them a copy of this book.  Whether they’re liberals like the author or conservatives who profess ideals of self-reliance this tale of functioning anarchy is one that simply can’t be denied.

Jan 142009
 

I’ve been meaning to discuss the WP Remix WordPress Theme in either my Wonderful WordPress Wednesday series here on Philaahzophy or my Thursday Themesday series over at Gilroy Review for about six weeks now but just wasn’t exactly sure where it fit.  You see, both of those series are dedicated to using WordPress as a blog, while WP Remix is all about using WordPress as a CMS (Content Management System).  Of course, you can still use WPRemix for a more traditional blog, but that’s a little like using a sledgehammer to crack open a peanut.

WPRemix is one of the few “premium” (read: you must purchase a license) WordPress themes that I’ve actually considered purchasing.  When I first discovered WordPress I actually purchased two premium themes and was sorely disappointed both with the coding itself (with a little searching I could have found all of the features I liked for free) and with the level of support (essentially none).  WPRemix solves both of these problems, offering a huge amount of features (smart drop menu, over 50 pre-structured page templates, seven color schemes, theme admin options, it’s pre-configured for such famous plugins as Contact-Form, Page Navi, Gravatar, Flickrss, Post Rating, and Author Highlight, and so mouch more) and having an excellent support forum available 24 hours a day to assist with whatever your WPRemix needs are.

There are literally far too many features and possibilities with WP Remix for me to go into them all here.  But if you’re looking to use WordPress as a CMS and are more interested in operating your business ro storefront than in tweaking your website, you absolutely need to spend a little time exploring the website dedicated to this premium wordpress theme.

For those of you astute enough to realize that this post is filed not only under “Blogging”, but also under “Affiliates”, here’s the kicker.  Just this week the affiliate program payout for sales of WP Remix has increased from an already generous 20% to an amazing 50%.  That means that if someone purchases a single site license for this incredible WordPress theme through yuor link you’ll receive $37.50 and if they purchase a multi-site license you’ll earn a sweet $137.50!

Now, before you think I’m only recommending WP Remix in order to earn those commissions, double check the links in this post.  Both go directly to their website without any sort of tracking.  They aren’t affiliate links! I just think this is an awesome product with a great affiliate program.

Jan 052009
 
Part of the Top Hosting Center Series - Previous in series         

Top Hosting Center is once again offering their Rudolph web hosting plan for “lifetime web hosting”.  This time around they’ve got two different Rudolph web host plans, but it’s still the same scam they were running last year (and which I, unfortunately, fell for).

They’re up to the same old tricks they were running last time around – having employees pose as independent bloggers, etc, but they still can’t seem to keep their servers online.  If you don’t believe me or think I’m just bitter try reading the comments section of any of my past posts on Top Hosting Center.  They simply can’t handle the load they have now, but are looking to sell more space on their already overloaded servers.

Oddly enough, my old nemesis “John Raul” never wrote about the new Rudolph plans.  He’s the THC employee who was running all around the internet last year claiming to be a satisfied customer when he was, in fact, on the payroll.  Top Hosting Center’s CEO, Eric Vanier, even replied to his various John’s various comments as if he was a customer while sending him a regular monthly paycheck.  Those of you who have followed this story here at Philaahzophy will recall that John claimed I got him fired a few months back.  Well, according to his latest blog posts not only is he still working for THC, but apparently he has fallen in love with Eric Vanier as well.  Very strange indeed.

BTW, THC has finally stopped pretending to be the “#1 Budget Hosting” company and is, instead, touting their “Top 10 Fastest Growing” award from HostReview.  Knowing how much Eric likes to make things up out of whole cloth I looked into it and it turns out that the “fastest growing” category is compiled completely by votes solicited by the web hosting companies themselves.  HostReview still has not reviewed the company itself and does not endorse it in any way.  Rather, this “award” is just a matter of Eric, John, and their cohorts gaming the system by repeatedly voting for themselves from various IP addresses.  Not very impressive as far as awards go, but very sad indeed for a company that tries to project a profesional image.

As for the word “scam”, regular readers know I don’t use it lightly.  But what else can you call a company that regularly advertises “Guaranteed 99.9% Uptime”, delivers around 85% uptime, and refuses to even acknowledge, much less grant, their users request for compensation?

If you’re just looking for a cheap place to host your own domain, then Top Hosting Center may serve your purposes.  But if you want to know that your website’s going to be online whenever anyone wants to visit it, I’d consider any of the thousands of other web hosting options out there.

Part of the Top Hosting Center Series - Previous in series        
Jan 052009
 
Part of the Applied Anarchy Series - Previous in series         Next in series

As you probably already know, anarchists, libertarians, and freedom lovers are really big on books. In fact, the written word is still, by far, the greatest influence on the vast majority of converts. The problem with this is two-fold: 1) many of the books are dry and boring, and 2) the books aren’t exactly easy to “stumble across” if you’re not looking for them.  Freedom Book Club aims to solve both of these problems and you can help.

Each month four selections are posted at the Freedom Book Club home page.  All you need to do is swing by and vote for your favorite.   Then, during the first week of the next month, everyone interested will buy the selected book.  Voting for a selection does not obligate you to buy the book that is ultimately selected.

So, how does this help further the message of freedom?  It’s simple really.  Bestseller lists (New York Times, Amazon, etc) aren’t actually based on how many copies of a book get purchased.  rather, they’re based on how many books are purchased within a given time frame.  In other words, it’s velocity not volume.  By having hundreds (thousands?) of liberty lovers all purchase a specific book within the same week we can rocket these books up onto the best seller lists and get them much more attention from the general public.

Additionally, since each month’s book is selected by popular vote we can concentrate our efforts on works that are much more palatable to a general audience. For example…

Last month’s selection, Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression by Dr. Mary J. Ruwart, PhD sold out at Amazon.com not once, but twice. Of course, the Freedom Book Club has no way of knowing if they were the direct cause of such a rush on a 5 year old book, but their efforts certainly didn’t hurt! Healing Our World is, quite possibly, the ultimate primer on freedom. Written in an easygoing, friendly style it still manages to tear apart just about every possible reason one could have for remaining a statist despite government’s repeated failures. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend that you not only put it on your reading list, but that you put it at the very top.

But I’m getting sidetracked again. Just take a few minutes to check out Freedom Book Club.  Not only will you help spread the message of liberty to the masses, but you just might find a few books to enjoy and enlighten at the same time.

Part of the Applied Anarchy Series - Previous in series        Next in series
Dec 112008
 

It’s not exactly news that I’ve been far from happy with Izea, PayPerPost and SocialSpark for some time now. I actually abandoned writing for them for about two months, but have returned as they’re still one of the most consistent money makers available to me on the web. Unfortunately, things have only gotten worse over at Izea.

The last time I wrote about PPP was back in August related to Izea’s love of PageRank and how they’ve further embraced it instead of abandoning it as they had promised when Google attacked the bulk of their bloggers.  It seems good old Ted Murphy has decided that PayPerPost’s original critics were right and it really is all about selling PageRank and text links and actually has nothing to do with quality bloggers writing thoughtful and detailed reviews about products and services.  Why would I say this?  Well, according to Carri Bright (Izea’s Communications Diva)

The good news, though is that as of tomorrow (12.11.08), Tack Rating is no longer going to be a segmentation factor for Opps in PPP. So, while you may still receive a ban (deserved or otherwise) this will no longer affect your ability to take Opps from OTHER advertisers or lower your Tack score.

If you’re unfamiliar with PPPs workings, a ‘tack’ is the rating system advertiser’s have to give feedback on how well the blogger performed their duty when taking the advertiser’s opp (opportunity / sponsored post). Up until now, advertiser’s have been able to require a minimum average tack rating before a blogger could take one of their opps. This system allowed better blogs to (theoretically) rise to the top as an advertiser could require a 4 or 5 tack rating, leaving out all of those who previous advertisers have rated one or two tacks for poor English skills, outright lies, or rule bending.

The system was far from perfect, but was at least based on advertiser input and not the conflicted interest of PPP’s “reviewers” who (according to this ongoing thread) don’t seem very interested in disqualifying low quality blogs or even outright frauds and cheats.  In the past advertisers could allow even the one tack rated sploggers take their opps of they so chose, but now every PPP advertiser is required to let anyone and everyone who manages to game the (seriously broken) PageRank and RealRank systems get paid for linking to their website despite the quality of their writing or ability to follow simple instructions.