January 18, 2012
Late December, 2007 was the last time I went to bed sweetly oblivious to the world around me. In early 2008 I bought an iMac, spent months learning all the new bells and whistles, and started uploading creative material to the internet. Photos, videos, music files patched together with GarageBand, and I even started a new blog. Cracks were already beginning to appear in the facade of my life, however, cracks I tried very hard to ignore. An old friend I had not heard from in decades contacted me. My wife's company moved her desk to Singapore so she took a severance package. I visited my father for the first time in almost fifteen years. Spending time in Ohio made it impossible to ignore how claustrophic I'd become in Tokyo. There were entire weeks where I would never leave the confines of our apartment. The streets were too crowded. Parks saw fewer young families and more rowdy teenagers. Shopkeepers were becoming surly. I couldn't understand it, but I could feel something brewing.
Then came the American real estate collapse, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, TARP, and new, more abusive TSA policies. Weird and wild conspiracy theories about 9/11, the Mayan Calendar, HAARP, global economic warfare, and rumors of a shadowy multi-billionaire named "George Soros", all began to look less fantastic and more realistic. Then came the sudden rise to stardom of an unknown senator from Illinois who spent his time in the Senate voting "present" and making anti-war speeches. Time magazine called him, "Kenyan-born", and nobody even noticed. That article has since been buried, but an AP version of it is still available at Sunday Standard.
By July of 2008, Tokyo was suddenly much too far away from where I needed to be. It took a complex and delicate negotiation with my wife, but since she was no longer working she agreed that it might be time for us to retire in America. We came to Ohio for a visit, bought some land and arranged to have a house built.
Chaos continued to build. The quiet world of December, 2007 is now gone. The war in Iraq is over. American unemployment is hitting heights unseen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. For the first time in my life, the number of Americans collecting unemployment insurance is dwarfed by the number of those who have simply given up ever finding another job. After repeated failed attempts to get restrictive firearms laws passed by the Congress, the President and Attorney General colluded together to create a program that would have ATF agents escorting semi-automatic rifles into the hands of drug cartels so that they could blame American gun stores and gun shows.
When everyday Americans banded together in "Tea Party" chapters all over the nation and voted a new generation of fiscal conservative Republicans into the House of Representatives, a whole host of George Soros-funded online networking groups banded together to launch a counter-protest called (apparently with no sense of irony), "Occupy Wall Street". Young people flooded into parks and city squares in dozens of places across the United States to set up permanent camps demanding somebody do something. It must be pointed out that even now, some three months later, they still can't quite agree who should do what. Their protest bears all the same delusional trademarks as the "burning rage" espoused by blue collar blacks throughout the seventies after the civil rights movement had won them the right to be treated with the same contempt and ill-regard as poor whites. "Colored" drinking fountains and bathrooms quickly vanished in the south and now all that "burning rage" has been taken up by white college students unwilling to repay their student loans.
America, the land of my birth (and despite all these problems still the greatest country in the world), has always been a chaotic place. It is that chaos, that constant churning of cultural values, that has made it possible for genuinely oppressed people from all over the world to come here and build a better life for their families. Now instead of arguing over the status of Irish immigrants and the children of former slaves, we argue over the status of illegal immigrants from Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and most prominent of all, Mexico.
A couple days ago a television news commentator was talking about the need for immigration reform to "remove those laws which make it possible for millions of people to be abused by their employers and landlords". She completely ignored the fact that every time a genuine package of immigration reform is brought to the floor of the House of Representatives the Hispanic caucus and the Black caucus along with respresentatives from Nevada, New York and California, stand up to demand full amnesty for the estimated 20 million illegal aliens already here. These "undocumented workers" now live here because they ignored federal immigration laws put in place by those very same Congressional allies in response to demands from agricultural unions to stop allowing seasonal Mexican fieldworkers to take jobs from people already living here as citizens and permanent residents. Every politician and liberal media person who jumps on this bandwagon conveniently fails to mention that those union members were and remain predominantly legal immigrants from Mexico.
America, once the land of heroes and innovators, has become a land of victims demanding the federal government step in to save them. The more federal laws are passed to "protect the innocent", the wider the victim pool expands. Businesses demand federal help when they cannot balance their books, workers demand federal help when they cannot find jobs, mothers demand federal help when they cannot bear the stress of childrearing, and college students demand federal help when they cannot be bothered to study after too many nights at illegal "raves" held in abandoned warehouses.
Is this really what my homeland has descended into? Have we truly become a nation of spoiled brats demanding someone else feed us, clothe us, pay our rent, and raise our children?
Some people will be quick to point out that I am dependent on the generosity of my wife. And, indeed, this is completely true. However, I must point out that I repaid my student loans a very long time ago and I raised my children without government assistance. When I was in my thirties I worked full-time, went to school full-time, paid my own bills, and did not complain about the unfairness of it all. Even now, because I spent my entire adult life in Japan, I will never be able to collect Social Security and I will never qualify for Medicare. I don't envy the people who do have this option, not one tiny little bit, but I will not blindly accept people who cry, "I paid into that trust fund my entire life!"
Guess what, you didn't pay into the Social Security trust fund because there has been no trust fund to pay into since the late sixties. Our federal government has mastered "creative" accounting practices. Social Security funds exist as a "pre-assigned" segment of the general fund, a segment that contains nothing but Treasury bonds. But don't take my word for it, see for yourself: U.S. Debt clock. Everything you need to know is right there in blood red honesty. While you're there, click on some tabs and links. There is a wealth of information at your fingertips on the Debt Clock site. Real information, not the wild rantings of conspiracy theorists, academics with more loyalty to Marx than Washington, and Soros-funded internet bloggers who cannot tell the difference between a fact and an assumption.
One last note, before you panic over SOPA, take a moment to remember that this issue has been with us for a very long time. The first time I encountered it was in June, 2008. Just sit down, find your Congressional representative's website, and drop him or her an e-mail. They still work for you and they need to know how you feel about H.R. 3261, the "Stop Online Piracy Act".
We may or may not have arrived in the "end of days", but here's a little secret I'd like to share with you: it doesn't matter one way or the other! You still have to go to work or school tomorrow, you still have to pay off your credit cards and your mortgage, and you still might wind up spending three days in bed if you come down with the flu this season. In the end, there is only one thing you can do, be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. To do this you need to stock up on some canned goods, keep a fresh supply of bottled water, make sure your first aid kit doesn't expire, and unless you are an absolute pacifist, buy a gun and learn how to use it. There might not be a zombie apocalypse in the near future, but there are still tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and street gangs to worry about.
The television age ended when the Nintendo age began. The industrial age took a backseat when the information age began. Twice during my life I have seen the world end and a new one begin. Right now we are in the midst of a world ending, but so far no one is quite sure what new age is beginning. The one thing we can safely conclude is that even though this truly is the end of days, whatever comes next won't be a utopia.
January 10, 2012
Wikipedia: Bain Capital
Reuters: Romney's Steel Skeleton in Bain's Closet
Wall Street Journal: Romney at Bain Capital
Mitt Romney made his first fortune as the CEO and co-founder of Bain Capital, a private equity firm that invested in failing companies. Their stated purpose, of course, was to use their consulting and managerial expertise to transform failing companies into profitable enterprises. In a large number of cases, they succeeded. In some cases, however, they failed. When they failed, they drew on federal relief funds, drained employee pension funds, and took out huge commercial loans in order to pay themselves a healthy dividend and insure they turned a profit even when the company they'd invested in went bankrupt.
In short, Mitt Romney's "job-creation" experience in private industry provides exactly the kind of fodder Barack Obama uses to motivate his supporters to knock on doors and make phone calls. A presidential campaign between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama would be based on class warfare with Obama's team painting Romney as a predatory capitalist vulture who drained pension plans and vaccuumed up federal funds in order to make himself rich. This is exactly the kind of scenario Barack Obama excels at. If Mitt Romney wins the Republican primary he will provide Barack Obama with the perfect opponent to set up another four years in the Whitehouse. If by some miracle Mitt Romney wins the presidency, he will extend the bailouts and other taxpayer-funded rescues of private industry because those are exactly the sources he himself drew upon when he was unable to turn around a failing company.
A Mitt Romney presidency would be no different than a Barack Obama presidency: big government, astronomical debt, and private businesses getting rich off Treasury loans our grandchildren will still be paying taxes for just to cover the interest payments.
January 06, 2012
1> The only absolute truth in the universe is there are no absolute truths.
2> The only constant in the universe is change.
3> Trees falling in forests don't care if there is a human around to hear them.
4> Natural systems are dynamic, static systems are either dead or dying.
Put'em together and you have a working theory of everything.
I stumbled into a theology discussion on Facebook this morning. As a result, I wound up writing out something I have been thinking about for quite some time now. One caveat, I can only speak for myself so this may sound arrogant and presumptive but that is not my intent.
It starts with how one understands the Christian Trinity. One in Three vs. Three in One vs. Triune Godhead. Or, as a minister I knew in Japan once put it, "how big is your God?"
And then it sequines into the paradox that is predestined freewill. Or, as an atheist I was talking with once put it, "If God knew ahead of time who would believe and who would not, why not just skip the process entirely and only create those people he knew would believe?"
The only constant in the universe is change and since God created the universe, that constant change must also in some way reflect God. As I type this, I constantly delete and rewrite typographical errors, phrasing, and word choice. I, as a person created in the image of God, also reflect the essence of God in my constant self-correction process of creativity. So then, God is constantly changing the script as the creative process unfolds, therefore, the universe is constantly changing all around us. In my Trinity, God and Christ are different perspectives of the same being. As the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he reveals his omnipotence, as Christ he reveals his personability. Same person, two different roles, not unlike a woman who is both a schoolteacher and a mother. At school she is professional, detached, and in command while at home she tries to be warm, loving, and a caregiver to her husband and children.
Therefore, Christ is constantly changing because not only is he an active participant in the ongoing process of creation, he is the creator doing the creating. As we grow and walk with him, we are also active participants in this ongoing process of creation. The Holy Spirit, another role of God, works through us to modify and influence the universe as it unfolds.
God creates the universe through the daily actions and activities of his people, who for their part, are also creative agents exercising their ability to freely choose between different actions and activities. This is why the fallen angels and their supporters hate God's people so much. They can neither create nor exercise freewill. Their role and personalities are static, and static systems are either dead or dying. They know their role is narrowly defined, and since they cannot create, they pervert and corrupt, which in turn, will eventually lead to their obsolesence and defeat, a.k.a. their death. The Seven Days of Creation in Genesis (or the big bang and evolution if you prefer) did not complete creation because, like this theory of mine, creation is an ongoing process. That is why Genesis seems to contradict reality. The creation of this world is complete, but the creation of what this world is becoming is not complete, and never will be. Creation is an ongoing process and humanity is God's toolkit for bringing about one set of details. By giving us his creativity and freewill, God allows those details to constantly surprise, sometimes pleasantly and sometimes unpleasantly. The unpleasant details (sin and corruption) are from time to edited out through cataclysmic judgements which in turn allow us to fill in that portion of reality with something new.
There are no absolute truths because there is constant change. Something that exists in one moment may be annihilated in the next. People are born, they grow old and die. Plants become seeds that sleep during winter and bloom in spring. Entire galaxies collide into one another, dissipate and reform. Change is the only constant in the physical universe, and while that might seem an absolute truth, it can only be verified in the here and now. Many cosmologists cite entropy as the ultimate end of our universe and by extension, every possible universe. Unless, of course, entropy's exhaustion of all universal energy is nothing more than the precursor to another big bang (or as the Bible puts it, "a new heaven and a new earth"). Constant change, therefore, means no truth remains eternally true, thus, no truth can ever be absolute, except of course for the single absolute truth that there are no absolute truths.
As I said, it's still just a working theory. A lot of bugs to work out.