The Steadicam Merlin 2, balanced and ready for the Scottish Games parade.
The Steadicam Merlin 2, balanced and ready for the Scottish Games parade.

It took several hours to get it perfectly balanced and will take many more hours to tame, but I can say already that the Steadicam Merlin 2 is one impressive piece of kit. Friday will be the big test, an exercise both strenuous and delicate. Strenuous because steadicam operation involves holding a five-pound weight some distance from your chest for long periods of time. Delicate because what you’re holding responds to the slightest touch as if it were floating weightlessly through space.

The video embedded here was shot the day the Steadicam arrived.


In Walker Percy’s novel The Thanatos Syndrome, a physician named Van Dorn observes that “every society has the right to protect itself, even if it means temporary loss of civil liberties.” Later, Van Dorn is sent to prison for trying to reduce crime by spiking the local water system with mind-altering drugs. But that’s not my point.

My point is that each of us is a cell in the body politic, mid-way up the food chain, roughly above the worms and the chickens, but well below the corporations and the corporatocracy that we call “society.” What we’re taught about personal freedom and inalienable rights is no less religion than what we’re taught about That Great Gettin’ Up Mornin’. There can be no “loss of civil liberties,” because no such things exist.

There can, however, be a loss of the illusion of civil liberties and that, I believe, is what folks are so upset about.

As for me, I want the body politic to stay healthy, overactive immune system and all. I want free wi-fi and fruits out of season. I want paved roads and buses that run on time.

I also want the illusion of civil liberties made available, undiluted, to those who need it, just as I want Jesus, valium, NASCAR, beer and marijuana made available to those who need them. They calm the body. They relieve pain.