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Sunni's Salon, July 2005

I'd like to think it's the unseasonable heat addling my brains, but I'm not fooling myself with that. Whenever I read the news or commentary relating to current events, frustration and depression spar for dominance in my emotionscape. I dislike what I'm seeing, and would like to divorce myself from much of it -- the wars, the terror that states inflict upon the people they ostensibly serve, the increasing deindividuation of human interaction. Left to my own devices, away from the world's dreary droning, I enjoy activities and the company of others, and am largely happy and content. The duality of my days is rather stark. Yet I feel I can't escape either. Much as I dislike being of the world that's descending into darkeness, I am; and if I want to help counter that, I need to know what I'm dealing with.

Or do I? Many pro-freedom people focus on the world that is as an important part of getting to the world they'd like to see. I certainly have, and am still doing so, although to a lesser degree. Obviously we can't ignore fundamentals: pretending gravity can be disregarded willy-nilly or that humans don't have social needs won't benefit anyone. But might there be some wisdom -- or at the least, some means of finding balance or peace of mind -- in not looking at chasm between where I am and where I'd like to be, but instead enjoying and expanding the elements of freedom that I've created in my life now? I've no pretensions about being able to change the entire world single-handedly; but I often question my ability just to structure my own life to be as free as I'd like. Striking a balance between individual and social, and also between larger political forces and my own individual power, often seems like a four-dimensional puzzle that my brain just isn't able to handle.

So, I tell myself the heat's addling my brains, while I still try to find a solution to the puzzle (or even to articulate it well to others -- if you're feeling confused after reading thus far, you're not alone). And I retreat into worlds whose inhabitants seem to have little of my penchant for overly cerebral analyzing. Even though their decisions are difficult, the situations they face complex and challenging, they seem to choose a course that at least works somewhat. Ain't fiction and music great?

This month, Tom and I invite you to escape the heat and the disheartening political trends of the world with us. The lemonade's freshly squeezed, and there's ice-cold vodka to top it off if you desire, as you dip into Sunni's Salon for July. Three novels receive my scrutiny: The Third Revolution, by fiction newcomer Anthony F. Lewis; RebelFire 1.0: Out of the Gray Zone, from Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman; and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (spoiler-free for your convenience!). My music preferences have settled down somewhat from last month, particularly since I discovered that a favorite band from my childhood has temporarily reunited and will be performing three shows this October. To my delight, I've discovered a couple of new blogs by familiar names plus excellent established ones penned by new folk to me. Despite my tardiness in lining up our conversation, environmentalist-engineer-author Mark Vande Pol graciously gave me more of his time than I deserved, resulting in a fun, unexpectedly diverse interview. Welcome back, please make yourselves comfortable, and we hope you enjoy your time with us; your feedback on what we're doing well, and how we might improve, is always welcome.

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