COVID Is The Next Political Campaign

>> March 31, 2020

>> Blog Post #50

I turned the TV on today while I was having lunch, to watch the news. I don’t do that very often as I find the quality of TV news appalling. But once in a while, when there is a major topic being discussed it’s actually interesting to see how it is presented on TV and what they choose to talk about or not.

Guess who choose to make a live public appearance again today? The president, Emmanuel Macron. It must be the second time this week that he makes a televised speech during the news. I think he is starting to like it too much.

Anyways, the entire thing sounded like a slogan for the next political campaign. Let’s fight for France, we will do it together, let’s make sure we support our local industry and remain sovereign, blablablablabla….

I’m not saying anything of what he is saying is good or bad, I’m just saying that the only thing I heard, was vote for me as a president.

Made me want to puke.

Bon appétit….

What Are Borders?

>> March 30, 2020

>> Blog Post #49

I saw a tweet a few days ago that made me react.

Obviously, I understand the natural tendency for humans to arm themselves if they fear that physical harm can come to them and, in times of crisis, a very strong uptick in demand is definitely to be expected. Then depending on where you live and what your country’s laws on firearms are this can be more or less difficult or acceptable. The gun portion of the tweet therefore came as no surprise to me, especially coming from a known gun proponent.

The frontier component of the tweet is more interesting. What is a frontier? Ragnar’s response to that question was “What is water?”. Borders are interesting as depending what you are talking about, they can be extremely different in nature.

You have the natural physical border. Water is a very good example of this, but so have been mountains or deserts of you look at how countries have evolved geographically throughout history. Rivers, lakes, oceans have very often served as a natural delimitation of a town, a province or a country and still do today.

But you have another type of border, the one enforced by a country, its government, the troops it can deploy to protect them. Sometimes these borders are not the manifestation of a material delimitation but the virtual design of some kind of will. You can cross a border without having to hop over it as there is no line between country A and country B in many cases.

So how do you use a border to protect yourself from a virus? It’s not like COVID-19 is going to stop at the border frontier post – if you still have one. And yet most countries seem to be shutting down their borders. It seems to be the only thing they are trying to manage is that who eventually gets in is a citizen, one for whom they are “responsible”, meaning they would have to provide a bed for if hospitalized. I’d argue that for a majority of governments around the world, their worst fear would be to be seen as not knowing how to handle their own citizens with their citizen’s hard-earned money (their taxes). They are far more concerned about that, which would make them obsolete, than the actual number of casualties I am afraid.

If this is true, what is the benefit of a border? Is it not only to protect a state in its governmental function? I can see a culture or tradition being maintained without a border, but not a state. Why would we want a border then?

And lastly, and maybe a little more philosophically if I may say, borders can also be seen as a temporary limit for mankind. The rivers that men and women could not swim across restricted them until they were able to walk around or swim across. The seas and oceans killed many before the first settlers were able to cross them. The edge of the earth even disappeared when Magellan sailed around the world, and Man even left the confines of his home on earth when he started exploring space. What is a border if not something you naturally want to conquer and go past?

The image I chose for this post is the photo of a meeting room in Panmunjom in the heart of the DMZ. DMZ stands for demilitarized zone and as its name might suggest, …, it is the exact opposite! probably one of the most heavily militarized zones in the world, which separates North Korea from South Korea. The blue building (“UN protected”) that houses this room actually sits across the boarder, with one half being in the north and the other half being in the south. If you have ever been there, please let me know in the comments below. I have personally been there and technically have set a foot in North Korea (you can do it while you visit the UN base) and it was a very strange experience that to this day still makes me wonder how I should think about it.

The Homeschooling Book – Part 3

>> March 27, 2020

>> Blog Post #48

I made some progress in the yard this week. I think I’ll be able to make a few posts about it next week. All I can say is that I really enjoyed these few moments spent in the yard working with my hands and spending time alone or with my kids.

This year we became friends with the parents of a kid who is in the same school as one of mine. The dad is a total nut. Super funny and bold as they come. He has had several entrepreneurial endeavors in the past but is currently working for a major bank in one of these high paying bullshit jobs. Talk to him two seconds and you’ll see just how futile he thinks this all is and he’ll tell you how desperate he is to find some project to work on and become an entrepreneur again.

Anyways, he called me a couple times this week and we talked about how we were both managing our respective households. He told me how he was keeping everyone active and busy at his house and then I did the same. Then at some point in the conversation, I said something – and I really have no idea what it was – that made say “yes that’s it, that’s what we could do”. He went on for 2 minutes super excited about how we should get into the business of starting some kind of alt school. It was funny, because we both appreciate each other’s humor and make a ton of jokes when we have these discussions, but it is true that there’s a little more to that than just getting excited by whatever project is just better than a banking job.

But what would a good alt school look like? I had often wondered without digging into the subject more, but this past few weeks at home led me to finally open a book I had downloaded a couple years back and titled “The Origin and Ideals of the Modern School”. (You can find a copy in The Anarchist Library). I am only halfway through it right now, but there is a passage that I liked and that fits perfectly well with my current gardening days.

Education like gardening

“This does not mean that we will leave the child, at the very outset of its education, to form its own ideas. The Socratic procedure is wrong, if it is taken too literally. The very constitution of the mind, at the commencement of its development, demands that at this stage the child shall be receptive. The teacher must implant the germs of ideas. These will, when age and strength invigorate the brain, bring forth corresponding flowers and fruit, in accordance with the degree of initiative and the characteristic features of the pupil’s mind.”

Excerpt From: Francisco Ferrer. “The Origin and Ideals of the Modern School”.

Does Anyone Else Feel Like Becoming Autonomous?

>> March 26, 2020

>> Blog Post #46

I feel the pull.

Running a few experiments on how to live, educate, and already I’m spending more and more time thinking and researching how I could gain even more autonomy.

I really need an off the grid space to build and shape to my liking. An autonomous zone. But I don’t want it to be temporary. I feel a wish to settle into something more durable.

The Homeschooling Book – Part 2

>> March 24, 2020

>> Blog Post #45

Guess who is going to have 5 more weeks to work on his homeschooling project?

One of the difficult aspects of having everyone at home 24/7 is that you pretty much have to take charge of the weekly calendar for everyone. How autonomous were we when we were kids? I don’t remember. Looks like the attention span of my kids isn’t very long and they look at others for ideas of what to do quite a bit. Actually, today wasn’t too bad.

I think everyone needs to get a little more bored, to hit some kind of bottom, so that progressively the will to get genuinely excited and motivated by something comes up.

I’ve started to introduce a mandatory moment for the kids to get online and do some internet searches. I want them to be stimulated enough that then they would then start going for the DIY stuff which they really like. We’ll see how that goes.

Anyways, this is just a drill. We are practicing for later. We are learning more skills patiently while the confinement lasts. But we will probably take this mindset with us after. I hope we’ll be able to learn for years to come and maybe one day we can build a family citadel with the children.

The skills we are learning might come in handy if we want to put a roof over our heads, farm the food we need to survive or just want to change our lifestyle. They might come in handy as a way of living or as a way to earn money or trade. It will, whatever happens open up our horizons.

The Homeschooling Book – Part 1

>> March 23, 2020

>> Blog Post #44

The COVID-19 induced confinement period has been an opportunity for me so far. Of course, there are many problems because of it, and I’ve ranted enough about how afraid I am that governments are just going to seize this fine opportunity to grab more power and screw us more. But, overall, the mood has been very positive, and I’ve seen it as a chance to do more and to do things differently. Having the kids 24/7 and the weather being pretty nice have also been an underlying reason for this all.

This will probably turn into some big experiment for me and I decided to take a blank notebook and start writing down all my ideas around it and I will also probably take a journal of what I do to keep track of it all.

Being in confinement means spending all your time together. It means you have to reorganize both your time and your interactions. No more school, work, week-end rhythm punctuated by set alarm clocks and meals.

As I’ve said, I’ve taken this positively. I know I have more time to enjoy – and completely loose it – my kids, and I also know that they need to keep busy.

Mens sana in corpore sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body.

I actually like the Latin version better as it includes that notion of saneness, which for a ton of people is paramount when they are faced with spending their entire days locked up with their kids.

I am still figuring out my exact setup here, but so far, I try to have my kids work every morning and then spend some time outside in the afternoon on outdoor games or yardwork.

I am guessing that physical activity would be a better way to start the day, but thee reason I am keeping this for the afternoon is that it is still too chilly in the morning these days.

Here are some of the things we have done over the past week:

  • We’ve cleaned out an area on our lawn to grow a vegetable garden
  • We’ve recycled old wooden pallets in making a compost
  • I’ve trimmed the hedges and the kids helped me pick up the branches so that the garden is clean
  • We’ve trained the dog outside – or at least we’ve attempted too, but he’s so young the distractions are too frequent for much progress
  • We started discussing how we should proceed for the planting of the vegetables, when to do it, what to plant, where to plant seeds, etc.…
  • We’ve cut off the butt of one of the leaks we ate the other day and left it in water, as it is supposed to grow back, and we should be able to repot it in a few days’ time.
  • We’ve set aside some potatoes to sprout
  • We’ve cleared out an area to grow some fruit trees
  • We’ve played a board game every single day
  • We’ve introduced more frequent movie nights
  • We’ve let the kids “camp” in each other’s’ rooms
  • We’ve started to do half of the homework on the computer in order to start teaching them how computers work. Our hunch is it might be useful someday 🙂 We’ve maintained handwriting for the other half because I don’t want them not to know how to write with a pen properly.
  • But the most exciting, or at least the one which I was the most proud of was the 10 min race between my kids to see who would gather the most worms in the yard so that we could settle into our new compost. That was a hit and got them really excited.

What I’ve wanted to do but haven’t incorporated in the schedule yet:

All of this has taken more time than it should, as being all on top of each other does create organizational “problems”. Especially when the adults are also supposed to be working etc. So, we’ve taken it one step at a time, guessing that we will probably have a lot more time in confinement anyways. At least that’s my bet.

I want my children to read every day and to learn how to enjoy it. Reading at least 30 min a day is paramount in my opinion and this hasn’t been done every day. My plan is that it should be.

I also would like to incorporate some kind of muscular wake up routine, just to get some of the kids’ energy out in the morning or during our homeschooling breaks.

I’d like to add some elements to the school program that are more philosophical or geared towards building confidence in my children that we are all capable of pretty much anything that we set our sights on if we work hard and persevere.

And finally, I would like to have them do so internet searches on whatever we plan on doing together so that they bring ideas, get creative, start dreaming and maybe provide me with some guidance on what there is to do. This should tie in nicely with the goal above.

All in all, this should be seen as an overarching goal to develop the mind, the body, the personality of each kid in their own way.

I’ll follow up on this post regularly in the coming weeks.

Traffic Restrictions

>> March 19, 2020

>> Blog Post #43

There’s a local police officer in the town my kids go to school that really rubs be the wrong way. The police force in France is set up in an unusual way that people outside of France are not aware of. You actually have two “police” forces. One is called the police and is similar to what you probably have wherever you live. The other is the gendarmerie and actually consists of a police force of trained military. They actually fall under the army’s authority.

Anyways, this particular guy that really annoys me is from the police, but the kind of police that has very little authority because they report to the mayor and deal with very limited local affairs. His morning responsibility is to help me cross the street in front of the kids’ school while making a point of showing all the cars in the town that he’s in charge of the crossing. Just thinking about it pisses me off, the guy is so overzealous it is embarrassing. I’ve also seen him turn on the siren and the lights – only when people are there to witness the scene – when someone is double parked so that he can do his best chuck Norris impersonation and threaten to hand the driver a parking ticket. That’s pretty much the extent of his power. But boy does he take his job seriously.

Anyways, he stopped me in the street on Monday, the day the restrictions on being out of home came into effect in France. It was 12:05 and the restrictions were supposed to take effect at 12:00. He asked me if I had my self-signed attestation authorizing me to be out of my home. I knew it was the first day and I was not running much of a risk by not having it, so I responded I did not. He lectured me for a sec and I drove home.

Today I went to town again, to try to find some toilet paper. What else?

He was there.

He stopped me.

I opened the window and handed him my self-signed attestation without even looking at him. I cannot suppress the feeling of anger at having the state restrict my liberty by confiscating public spaces. The form was filled out thoroughly as I just don’t want to be fined. I didn’t add comments to it, although I really really really want to. Nothing was missing from it. Name, address, birth date, purpose of me cruising around on such a fine day and my signature.

There was nothing he could say about it.

And yet he did….

“you should add the time of the day you are leaving your house”.

This is not something that is requested on the form, just another overzealous ask of his. I guess he’ll be asking for my DNA and fingerprints tomorrow.

These are the first people that jump ships when shit hits the fan and become oppressors. Fucking fascist.


>> March 18, 2020

>> Blog Post #42

We’ve now been confined for a couple days. I feel like we are going to have to get organized in order to maintain a normal life in very uncertain conditions and no time frame in mind. We’re used to having the kids at home during the holidays and there is nothing new there, but this time around, we’ve been asked by the teachers to actually continue the school program and effectively become the teachers. We are also working remote while planning for a pandemic, something we’ve never thought about previously.

Spring seems to be settling in, after a very mild winter. I therefore decided that we should spend some time out in the yard with the kids to keep them busy and avoid them going at each other too much. The yard needs some work, so I have more than enough to keep them busy.

But the situation being what it is, with a lot of uncertainty, with questions around our ability to find food easily at the supermarket – we managed to find toilet paper for the first time in ten days today – and the new responsibility of actually homeschooling the kids, I thought the situation was just right to change the program and teach them something both fun and useful: to build their own vegetable garden.

My guess is that we’ll all learn a ton – I know very little about it – it will be useful, it should keep us busy for long hours throughout most of the year, it will probably require a lot of DIY and last but not least, it will be an active moment that we spend together the kids and me.

I’m excited. At least we’re making the best out of this very unfortunate situation.

That which does not kill you makes you stronger.

Place your family at the center of your life.