May 31, 2012

Do you really want my opinion?


Dropped into my YouTube channel a minute ago and found a dozen requests and shares from people pushing their favorite musician hopefuls and their music videos. Been getting similar traffic on my Twitter feed the last month or so. Ever since I made the post about Susie Brown, actually. Not a problem. However a few words to the wise:

1) Don't share or recommend from an anonymous account. Instant delete when you do so.

2) You really want my attention? Leave an intelligent comment here, on my Facebook, or on my Twitter feed. Show me you care enough to hear what I have to say before you demand my attention.


May 30, 2012

Kina Grannis: Without Me


Almost ten years ago I was wandering through YouTube when I stumbled across a skinny kid in Los Angeles playing her guitar. She sang off-key and out of tune, and her guitar looked like it might be twice as big as she was, but she sang with her full heart and with a rich sincerity I'd never seen outside of Christian music.

I subscribed and left a few words of encouragement. My comment was immediately attacked, naturally. I came back a couple days later and left some more encouragement. For about a year I made it a habit to offer encouragement and advice on every video she posted. Then I got busy and couldn't spend much time online, let alone watching YouTube videos. Then I got caught up building a house in corn country and getting settled in. My father got older and needed more help doing everyday things. I found more people in Ohio who were in dire need so I helped some of them. Next thing I know years had gone by, so I went looking for her again to see what she had been up to.

I found her in the middle of a world tour sponsored by Jelly Belly. Where her videos used to have a couple hundred hits at the very most, now she rakes in thousands within a few hours of posting them. This is her latest. As I write this, barely an hour after the video went live, the hit count is 302, twice what her most popular videos used to get after weeks and months online. By the time anyone reads my little blog post I'm sure the views will be in the tens of thousands and probably much, much more.

Enjoy the video, buy her CDs, load up iTunes and buy her stuff for your morning commute. This girl is gonna be a household name someday.

Kina is one of the first of a new generation of entertainers who start by mastering the power of the internet to gain a worldwide following before they ever publish a single tune. Kina Grannis and millions of young people like her are the real reason the internet must remain the wild and woolly, untamed place that it is. We need a global forum where anyone and everyone can upload their best. It must remain unregulated, unfenced, untaxed, and uncontrolled. This is the single most powerful equalizing tool humanity has ever created. Yes, it's true. If we can keep the internet free then someday it could be the foundation of an entirely new reality. We must keep it free, however. Regulating it, supervising it, censoring it, taxing it, using it as a spytool, all of these efforts by global and national governments to claim control over this frontier will doom the potential it offers.

The internet is the last springboard into a genuine global society based on equal opportunity and free enterprise. If the collectivists have their way and the false messiahs with their promises of utopia are allowed to gain the upper hand here in cyberspace, then humanity is truly doomed.

A free and open internet, filled with beauty, ugliness, love, and hate, all in uncontrolled chaos, is the key to a better future. Kina Grannis and millions of young people around the world just like her are the evidence of that promise.

Utopian daydreams cannot bring a better world. They only bring darkness and oppression. The key to human happiness is freedom as close to total anarchy as we can tolerate. The less chaos we tolerate, the more unhappy we will be. That is the single most important lesson of history.


America is not a "Christian Nation"


America is not a "Christian nation". America is a secular, constitutional republic founded on Christian principles. Yes, there is a difference and that difference is huge.

A Christian nation would be a theocratic state, fascist in intent, that demanded conformity to Christianity.

A secular, constitutional republic founded on Christian principles is a cooperative of individuals, based on law, where each individual is free to believe and act in ways they deem right provided they do not violate the common law.

The First Amendment protects both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. It does not demand conformity to Christian speech, Christian values, or the Christian religion. Nor does it demand freedom from religious dialogue and influence regardless of whether that dialogue and influence is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Animist, Mystic, Shamanist, Atheist, or anything else imaginable. It was written that way intentionally.

Naturally, Shari'a is just as incompatible with the Constitution as Leviticus would be.

You and I have every right to speak our mind. We have no right to demand laws forcing everyone else to agree.

That is what "freedom" really means.


May 28, 2012

Congress might as well go home


I guess the House of Representatives and the Senate might as well disband and go home. The many victories for patriotism and constitutionalism won in the 2010 election have now been completely thwarted. President Barack Obama has taken several important steps down the road to tyranny, steps not even President George W. Bush dared to take. For all legal intents and purposes, the United States of America is now under the same conditions as it would be in a state of officially declared martial law. The president now rules entirely by Executive Order. The orders he has signed since the beginning of this year have dissolved the Constitution of the United States and placed our entire nation under the laws, rules, regulations, and arbitrary decisions of the United Nations. If the House and Senate are not willing to impeach him, then they might as well go home because any bill they now pass is irrelevant to President Barack Obama's master plan. The exact details of that master plan are yet to be revealed, but they will build on the debacle of "Health Care Reform" and "Financial Reform" forced through in the closing days of the 111th Congress.

I used to worry that we were one Executive Order away from martial law. That order was signed on March 16, 2012. President Obama did not title it "Martial Law", but it does not matter because when paired up with the NDAA amendments authorizing the American military to seize and hold indefinitely any American Citizen for any reason whatsoever as long as they label the capture an anti-terrorism operation, the end result is the same. The president now has the authority to order the American military to seize or assassinate any American citizen anywhere in the world and confiscate their assets for any reason whatsoever. The only restriction is he must accuse them of terrorism. He doesn't have to prove terrorism. He doesn't have to provide evidence of terrorist intent to a judge. All he has to do is give the order.

Check your powder and sharpen your bayonets, friends. The civil war I have spent the past five years trying to avoid has now begun. All that is left is for someone to fire the opening shot.

Wikipedia: The PATRIOT Act
Wikipedia: NDAA for Fiscal Year 2012
Executive Order, June 19, 2010: Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes
Executive Order, March 15, 2012: Establishing a White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities
Executive Order, March 16, 2012: National Defense Resources Preparedness
Executive Order, May 1, 2012: Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation



May 27, 2012

A real "zombie apocalypse" in our future


I found it on Facebook. At first, I thought it was just another joke post. Then I read the article.

Miami Herald: Naked man killed by Police near MacArthur Causeway was ‘eating’ his victim's face

There were couple of things in this article that struck me as both very odd and very disturbing.

"The officer, who has not been identified, approached and, seeing what was happening, also ordered the naked man to back away. When he continued the assault, the officer shot him, police sources said. The attacker failed to stop after being shot, forcing the officer to continue firing. Witnesses said they heard at least a half dozen shots."

...

"Police theorize the attacker might have been suffering from "cocaine psychosis," a drug-induced craze that bakes the body internally and often leads the affected to strip naked to try and cool off."

Every street drug derived from the coca plant has the potential to cause irreversible damage to the central nervous system. Some street products are more damaging than others because of the impurities found in them. Cocaine products differ from methamphetamine products in several ways, both in their manufacture and in their effect, but both derive their "high" from the drug's interrupting of the signal activity in the central nervous system. There are a few products out there which combine cocaine and methamphetamine. However, because the street value of each drug alone is very high, combining them is generally not cost effective. When they are combined, the degree of permanent damage they inflict is even greater than each drug would normally do on its own.

Over the past decade many tons of both products have been interdicted during importation into the United States or confiscated from home-based labs. Drug awareness programs at the high school and junior high school level have also helped reduce the number of people who "experiment" with these drugs. Most modern users intentionally seek out the particular effects of the drugs rather than just try them for fun. This also means most people who wind up using these drugs are more hardcore users prone to taking larger doses more regularly than was common a few decades ago. As a result, the damage to their central nervous systems is more extreme and fewer of them are able to overcome the addiction even after multiple trips through rehabilitation programs. The greater damage also means that more and more often by the time a user is forced into rehab, the damage has become permanent. Untreatable, lifetime psychosis caused by drug use is becoming even more common than it was during the late sixties when the drug culture first became socially acceptable.

There might be a very real crisis brewing in the streets of America's inner cities. I hope this article is not indicative of a real-world zombie apocalypse driven by bad street drugs rather than fictional bad vaccines and biological weapons. The fictional versions are bad enough. A real version with its source in an untraceable designer drug concocted in basement laboratories in every city in America would make Hollywood's version seem almost tame.

---------------------------------------------

Updates:

(5/28/2012) Miami Herald: Questions remain about causeway attack
(5/29/2012) Miami Herald: Video reveals new information in causeway attack
(5/30/2012) Miami Herald: Girlfriend of attacker blames drugs or voodoo
(5/31/2012) CNN: Rudy Eugene's Mother, "My son was no zombie"
(5/31/2012) CBS Miami: Victim in causeway attack faces surgery, long recovery
(6/1/2012) Miami Herald: Troubled lives clashed in MacArthur Causeway Attack
(6/1/2012) International Business Times: Miami returning to normal after attack
(6/28/2012) CBS Miami: No Exotic Drugs in Rudy Eugene's Blood

Four years later this is still one of the most under-reported crises facing contemporary America:
(8/16/2016) WJAC Florida: Suspect found biting pieces of man's face off
(8/18/2016) Fox News: Teen in face-biting murders claimed superpowers



May 23, 2012

Opening moves in the Armageddon chess board


According to an article in the New York Post, in late September of 2010 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, had dinner with Louis Farrakhan, the President of the New Black Panther Party. The Post joked about paranoia running rampant in the streets, but as we all know, it's not paranoia when they really are out to kill you. Both Farrakhan and Ahmadinejad have repeatedly expressed a desire to bring down the American government, destroy Israel, and end the global capitalist economy. Well, thanks to a century of "progressive reform" the global economy has more in common with communism than capitalism and has spent the past five years on life support, but that has not stopped the collectivists from their doomsday ranting.

On May 17th, two interesting articles appeared that I missed because the past week has been pure chaos in my life. The first, "Iran Attack Decision Nears, Israeli Elite Locks Down" implies that Israel has begun final preparations for launching an attack against Iran while the second, "Medvedev Warns of Full-Blown Wars", has the President of Russia casually mentioning that "meddling in the business of other nations" could lead to escalation up to and including, "the use of nuclear weapons." This is all especially curious when we remember that the primary funding source for the Iranian nuclear program is a Russian consortium called, "Alfa Group". Various unsubstantiated internet rumors connect the Alfa Group to "evil" international banking cartels as well as both Russian and Jewish organized crime families. Although these rumors are worth mentioning they are not worth providing links for.

The final piece to the puzzle fell into place yesterday. Glenn Beck's "The Blaze" published a short article with a couple of very interesting audio files, "Ahmadinejad, Farrakhan & The Black Panthers: Shocking New Details On Their Meeting". According to The Blaze, at that odd little dinner back in September 2010, the NBPP and the Iranian government formed a loose alliance for the purpose of destroying their two common enemies, The United States of America and Israel.

Analysis is tricky, and mostly involves making educated guesses based on disparate facts that at first blush appear random. What makes it even harder is that every strategy involves a linchpin moment that is completely outside the control of the planners. For example, the linchpin moment in D-Day Invasion of Normandy was the weather suddenly changing for the worse. The linchpin moment that has forced the hand of the planners above was probably the Trayvon Martin shooting. This provided fuel for both stoking the fires of a racial civil war within the United States and distracting the world's people from the larger global landscape.

My suggestion is the same suggestion I always make: have a good stockpile of food and bottled water. If you haven't built one, build it this week because once the shooting war starts it will be too late. If nothing else, you'll have a good supply of groceries and you won't have to visit the store so often for the next couple months. At worst, you'll be safe and secure in your home when your neighbors are scrambling to feed themselves and their children after the supermarket shelves are empty. It's probably too late to learn how to use a firearm, but if you already know how, this would be a good week to check your ammo and cleaning supplies. If you don't know how to shoot and this week someone offers to teach you, go for it. There is no time like the present to acquire a skill with the potential to both save your life and feed your family.

I am hoping all of this will blow over and the summer will unfold with barbeques and vacations. Please stay alert and keep vigilant. There is a very real possibility this summer will be far from normal. It might start in Syria. It might start with Iran and Israel. It might not start at all. Either way, tensions are running high and there is every reason to believe our civilization is on the brink of a global war that will dwarf everything which came before.

Revelation 14-17 seems particularly relevant.


May 21, 2012

Terrorists are not freedom fighters


Within hours of 9/11 an idea took hold in some corners of the internet that has grown in power and prominence ever since. I don't know exactly where this idea originated, but the first time I encountered it was the day after 9/11 in a Usenet post very similar to this .pdf:

Dark Acolyte: Were our founding fathers terrorists?

Apparently in July of 2001, only a few months before 9/11, this video was recorded during a FEMA training session of some kind:

In March of 2003, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur compared the Founding Fathers of the United States to Osama Bin-Laden and labeled them "atypical revolutionaries".

Toledo Blade: Kaptur's remarks providing fodder for verbal volleys

In 2005, NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams compared the Founding Fathers to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

WND: NBC Anchor Compares Founders to Terrorists

Yesterday someone on Facebook posted a Tea Party blog post which contained the video from 2001. In response, I attempted to explain the difference between terrorists and revolutionaries, but Facebook refused to accept my comment. I tried to leave my explanation as a status update, but Facebook refused to accept that as well. I'm not sure if I got caught in one of those weird cache errors that plagues Facebook from time to time or if there is some kind of filter that blocked my posts. In the end, it does not matter, because that failure led in turn to today's blog post (my 475th, by the way).

Scholars, politicians, journalists, and lawyers like to quibble over definitions. They seem to believe that somehow the label changes the reality, therefore, to these people the label is always more important than the reality itself. It's a kind of sympathetic magic, I suppose. Reality, of course, does not care about labels. Reality is what it is and it is up to each of us individually to define our place within the chaos. These are my definitions:

Terrorists use murder and mayhem to create fear. Their targets are civilians and civil authority.

Freedom fighters use small-scale military tactics to disrupt the activities of an armed force they regard as either tyrannical or allied with a tyrant.

These are two completely different strategic goals, with two completely different sets of strategic targets. Sometimes a band of freedom fighters might engage in an act of terror, and sometimes a band of terrorists might engage a military target, but the key to discerning the difference between them is their overall strategy. Al Qaeda, for example, began as freedom fighters. Their targets were the Soviet military and their strategy was to disrupt Soviet military operations enough to make the occupation of Afghanistan unsustainable. However, in 1991 the Saudi Arabian royal family allowed the United States military to use their country as a staging ground in the liberation of Kuwait. This angered Osama Bin-Laden and his followers so greatly that they began to target Americans. As a result, during the period from 1995 to 2000 Al Qaeda morphed from a regional band of religious freedom fighters into an international terrorist organization. Their first targets were American political and military interests in the Middle East or Africa. The most successful of these attacks was the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in October 2000. Their last major success was the attack on London in 2005, but even then, the conspirators involved were inspired by Al Qaeda rather than employed by Al Qaeda.

America's Founding Fathers, on the other hand, did not engage in murder of innocent civilians nor did they routinely assassinate civil authority as Dark Acolyte suggests in his list of atrocities. They began by opposing the Stamp Tax through a variety of prankish stunts such as tar and feathering British Stamp assessors or dumping cargo into Boston harbor. While these actions did create fear among a few minor segments of early colonial society, the creation of fear was neither the strategy nor the goal. They were more comparable to modern day college pranksters than modern day terrorists. Even the Occupy Wall Street movement has gone far beyond the early "terrorist" actions of the Founding Fathers.

All of that changed when Governor General Gage set out to confiscate the weapons and ammunition of the local militias. That was when the Sons of Liberty took up arms and violence. That was the beginning of the American Revolution. Being genuine freedom fighters and not terrorists, the American Revolutionaries fought direct military engagements, interrupted supply lines, ambushed prison camps, and came to the rescue of communities being terrorized by British troops. If there were any terrorists during the American Revolution it would be the British Army with their tendency to lock entire villages inside the local church and then set it aflame.

America's Founding Fathers were never terrorists, not even in the loosest, most general definition of the word. They began as pranksters, then transformed into freedom fighters. That is the record in both England and America. Those are the facts of history.

Timothy McVeigh was not a freedom fighter. He thought he was, and the reason he believed his actions comparable to the actions of the Sons of Liberty was because his school teachers never taught him the difference between revolution and terrorism. After he became an adult, his Army trainers never explained to him the difference between revolution and terrorism. The American media he relied on for daily news and current affairs never distinguished between the two either. Progressive individuals in key positions throughout our society have managed to confuse the issue so thoroughly that in modern America all acts of violence are seen as equally reprehensible. No distinction is made between self-defense and murder. Victims and aggressors are routinely swapped back and forth in the popular imagination until it is impossible for most people to figure out the difference between right and wrong in the simplest daily decisions.

We as a nation stand on the brink of civil war. Our nation has not been this clearly divided between two sides since the 1860 presidential election. It is entirely possible that violence will break out this year or next. If it does, the divisions will grow even sharper until we each are forced to choose a side. The side to oppose will be anyone who routinely kills civilians, who assassinates public figures, who funds their activity through bank robbery or drug sales, and who believes attacking a police station or a federal court is an act of revolution. Anyone who engages in those kind of actions is a terrorist. It does not matter what they say, how often they quote the Constitution or the Founding Fathers. If their targets are civilians or civil authority then they are terrorists and deserve to be treated as such.

Revolutions are not won by killing law enforcement and city councilors. Revolutions are won by defeating the armies of tyrants. If you work in law enforcement or the military and your superiors command you to attack peaceful civilians, then your commanders have become the terrorists and you need to defend the people either through disobedience or revolt. If the people are burning buildings and looting stores, then they are engaging in acts of terrorism and they need to be arrested and charged. If armed mobs are attacking a police station then they need to be shot and the survivors arrested. If someone assassinates local politicians or judges, then they are a terrorist and need to be treated as one.

The goal of revolution is to cripple the ability of a tyrant to impose tyranny. Assassination of his allies might slow the tyrant, but it will not stop him. The tyrant's powerbase must be struck, his logistics thrown into disarray, his command/control lines severed. Bombing abortion clinics is not revolution. Bombing trains carrying military supplies, hijacking convoys carrying food to military camps, and raiding military ammo or weapon storage facilities are the acts of revolutionaries. If our nation devolves into violence it will be important to recognize the difference between the terrorists and the freedom fighters, because in the end, the terrorist strategy will fail. The only path to victory is a genuine strategy aimed at dismantling a tyrant's powerbase. Terrorists are too busy feeding their own sadistic pleasure to ever achieve a strategically important victory.

9/11 was not a victory. It was a successful act of terror. 7/7 was not a victory. It too was nothing more than a successful act of terror. The Occupy Wall Street movement is not a victory. It is nothing more than a failed act of terror.

Freedom is never won by terrorism. Freedom is won by revolution. Freedom is also sometimes preserved by civil disobedience, or in extreme cases, civil war.


May 09, 2012

Movie Review: The Avengers


Once upon a time there was a hugely famous television series called, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". It was aimed at teenage girls and it featured a teen lead who learned she was actually a super-powered sort of hero gifted with special strength, stamina, regeneration, and spirit in order to save the world from hordes of evil vampires disguised as goth bar loving humans. The series was a great success and earned a very good profit for its creator, Joss Whedon. Over time the hero grew up, went to college, fell in love, fell out of love, and spun off a series about a reformed vampire named, ironically, "Angel".

Joss Whedon then ventured into new, uncharted terrain with a science fiction series that has since become a cult classic, "Firefly". That series was killed by network management before it ever really got a chance to get off the ground, but the fans were so devoted they launched a campaign that eventually resulted in the feature film, "Serenity". The combined Firefly/Serenity epic is, in my never humble opinion, the finest science fiction adventure anyone in Hollywood has ever produced. Not only does it feature some of the most memorable characters ever created in any fictional media, it rides Joss Whedon's quirky sense of humor like a rodeo bull destined for glory on the broken backs of stubborn cowboys. Firefly/Serenity shatters genre assumptions and in doing so, creates an entirely new genre that previously only Japanese anime had dared to explore (Cowboy Bebop, Trigun) and they hadn't done a very good job of it.

"The Avengers" screenplay was also written by Joss Whedon, but I didn't know that until the end credits ran. When I was heavily into comics back in my preteen and early teen years, I didn't care much for "The Avengers" comics. I was into "Werewolf by Night", "The Haunted Tank", and "The Amazing Spiderman". So right away I am at a disadvantage when it comes to enjoying this year's leading Hollywood blockbuster. Before seeing the movie, I probably missed learning about Joss Whedon's involvement because the whole Avengers concept was not one that resonated well with me. One of my old friends from high school was there at opening day and reported the experience on Facebook in glowing terms. Based on her recommendation, I decided I might as well see it. After all, I'd really enjoyed "The Hulk" and all the Spiderman movies, so I thought perhaps I would enjoy The Avengers as well.

As the movie unfolded Tony Stark and Captain America both struck me as very odd characters. This time around Tony Stark was even more annoying than he had been in the Ironman movies. I've never been fond of the "rich playboy who plays at being a hero" archetype seen in Ironman, Batman, the X-men, and so many others. For me, they all had far too much in common with the Green Goblin to be real heroes. This little eccentricity of mine made Tony Stark of the Ironman movies a total bore, and the version of him in The Avengers goes way beyond even that. Narcissism does not make for a good hero, regardless of how you dress it up. I did not see the Captain America movie, so I can't comment on it. The Avengers version, however, is so different from the comic version he really ought to be called by a different name. The Captain America I remember was a guilt-torn patriot who hated what he had become, hated the necessity of his own creation, and hated the enemies of America even more. I'd never enjoyed the Captain America comics because all that self-hatred made me want to scream, "Stop whining and get on with it already!" In The Avengers he's overcome all that self-hatred. Instead, he comes across as a shallow, mindless drone. Even worse than the drunken adult version of a high school athlete who never grew up, the Avengers version of Captain America is an adult version of that same high school superstar now devoid of personality altogether.

And then there is the villain, Loki. In Nordic mythology Loki is cheated out of his rightful inheritance because Odin prefers his second son, Thor. Loki is the mischievous spoiled prince and Thor is the do-gooder son desperate to please their father. After the throne passed to Thor, Loki became the thorn in Thor's side, a violent troublemaker who never really suffers the consequences of his actions. The Nordic Loki is clever, witty, sadistic, and quite possibly the most intelligent of the entire Nordic pantheon. The Avengers movie version of Loki, on the other hand, is shallow, callous, not particularly smart, and desperate to be revered. His allies are an alien race that combined several classic Hollywood monster traits in ways that were, for me, a bit unsettling. They were too random, too mindless, too utterly devoid of any real motivation for invading the Earth. They had the chance, so they went for it. A very huge waste of resources and manpower that even the most sadistic and power-hungry real-world tyrant would ignore while searching for a more lucrative target.

At the end I learned that Joss Whedon had written the screenplay. That certainly explains the weird alien invaders. Joss Whedon has not been able to come up with a decent villain since Buffy killed off the vampire patriarch at the end of season one. His Avengers aliens are a cross between the mindless, cannibalistic Reavers of the Firefly/Serenity universe and the vampire hordes of Buffy's first season. It seems to me that Joss Whedon is much too fond of zombie movies (or perhaps merely jealous of their success). The few enemies with both personality and motivation that he has managed to come up with since the end of Buffy's first season have always wound up becoming allies of his heroes.

In the end, that is the core problem with The Avengers movie. The iconographic heroes created by Stan Lee are reinterpreted by Joss Whedon into caricatures of their former selves. Each hero is stretched into such an extreme version of their comic book self that any hint of humanity Stan Lee managed to put in place is completely removed. These are elitist heroes who have nothing in common with the rest of us. They have far more in common with the movie version of Erik Lensherr or Victor von Doom than they do with the comic book heroes they are supposed to be. These are not thinking, feeling, human people with extraordinary talent. Instead, they are bloodright monarchs who refuse to take the throne. Perhaps Joss Whedon intended to portray them as moral heroes but for me they are nothing more than moral cowards who enjoy fighting. They fight to save the earth not from conviction or deep responsibility, but because it provides them justification for their own existence.