December 24, 2010
There is a lot going on right now. Crisis after crisis rocks through the globe threatening the sanity and stability of each and every one of us. The Christian world withdraws for this one day to celebrate the birth of Christ, most of Asia will skip over Christmas and celebrate New Year's Day instead. Atheists ignore the day, Wiccans celebrate some form of Samhain, and agnostics do as they please. Outside my house the snow still falls. My first real white Christmas. It's not as magical as I had hoped, but I'm a lot older than I was the first time I understood the magic of Christmas.
I reflect, as I have for the past decade, on the men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan who would much rather be back home any day, but most especially on this day. Friends who spend the day missing loved ones that passed from this life to the hereafter are also on my mind, and in my heart. I have a few losses of my own, naturally. No one arrives at this point in life without some loss. I read Luke and Matthew, skim through Isaiah, and pray for everyone I know as well as everyone I do not know. Christmas, for me, has become a holy day of reflection more than anything else. Perhaps I am getting old.
I am closing this blog out at the end of the month. Next year, I will start something new. I haven't decided yet what it will be, but the time has come to move on to something different. Once I have the new blog set up, I'll post a link here, and that will the last post I will ever make in Brian's Meandering Mind. My mind does not wander as much as it used to, and although it has yet to settle on any one thing the range has dramatically narrowed over the past year or two.
Christmas is here, in a few hours it will have passed. Christ, his mission, his life, and his victory will remain, but all of us will be a year older and a year further away from the manger where his mother laid him. After two thousand years one thing is perfectly clear, when Jesus proclaimed, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away," he was only being honest.
December 18, 2010
A little over a year ago, in February 2009, I wrote this blog post: Why is Mexico Burning?
Less than a month later, the L.A. Times published this article: Mexico's Arms Race
The vast majority of firearms used by Mexican drug cartels in their ongoing war for territory, routes into the United States, and control over the border region are smuggled in through Mexico's southern border with Guatemala. A generations old civil war being waged by native tribes against the Mexican government along with the mountainous, jungle-filled terrain make this an ideal corridor for smuggling firearms into Mexico. These firearms are sold to gun-runners by corrupt officials in various South American governments, stolen from arsenals in both South America and places as far away as South Korea, or in some cases provided by governments like Iran, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and Syria. The amount of firearms coming from American gun shops through "straw purchases" or bought at border region American gun shows from private individuals is not small, but it is far less than the "90%" figure that the current administration and the media are so fond of throwing around.
Yes, many of these firearms are American-made. They are coming from shipments we have supplied to friendly governments. Those shipments are either stolen by drug cartels themselves or bought from corrupt officials in those governments. Fully automatic AK-series rifles are either bought on the open market direct from suppliers in Eastern Europe, bought from other drug gangs in South America, or provided by Iran, Syria, and other Middle Eastern governments. In terms of raw percentages Hamas and Hezobollah provide as many weapons as American gun shops and gun shows, but the media almost never bothers to report this. Now why do you suppose that is?
Now the BATFE is seeking emergency powers to force American gun dealers along the Mexican border to report bulk sales of semi-automatic weapons larger than .22 caliber. (Washington Post: Proposal Calls for Dealers to Report Bulk Sales) The part the request overlooks and the media fails to report is that any dealer who wishes to keep their FFL is already required to report suspicious purchases. The BATFE can walk into their gun shops without a warrant on any day for any reason or even for no reason at all and demand to review their sales records. If a specific purchase is demanded for review, they must provide it regardless of whether a warrant has been issued. Gun dealers, in order to stay in business, must completely surrender their Fourth Amendment rights to the Federal government. The BATFE does not need any sort of emergency powers to review those sales, so why are they suddenly demanding them?
This request for emergency powers is subject to public review. This .pdf contains the phone number of the contact at ATF coordinating the public review: Request for Public Review
Give'em a call and let them know how you feel. Remember, they work for you. You are the boss. That's why they must hold a public review when requesting this expansion of their already vast powers of search and seizure. So call'em up and let'em know your mind. If you support it, if you oppose it, if you're neutral on it, none of that matters. The important part is to let them know.
Factcheck.org has an interesting, although inaccurate analysis of the facts: Counting Mexican Crime Guns
Note that Factcheck.org both completely overlooks AK-series weapons and fails to take into consideration firearms known to be provided by Hamas, Hezobollah, Iran and Syria.
The drug cartels and terrorists are working together with the backing of our enemies, but our government and it's puppet media continue to blame American citizens!
December 10, 2010
December 05, 2010
First, please read these:
Denver Post: Battle for America's TVs
Lubbock Online: Streaming Video May Compromise Internet Capacity
CNet: Level 3 Claims Comcast is "Strong-arming" them
I first encountered this weird idea of "net neutrality" a couple of years ago in this video: "Hot Girl and Crew Spreading Net Neutrality Message". Like any heterosexual man I do enjoy watching "hot girls" romping on beaches or hiking mountain trails, but they are not generally my first media of choice for political debate or scholastic research. "Hot" and "profound" don't generally coincide, although there are a few very rare exceptions. Somebody had recommended the video to me so I watched it and almost immediately forgot about it. After all, it was vague, lacked any kind of facts, and was clearly intended to play on the emotions of its viewers in order to advance a political agenda of some kind.
For the life of me I could not figure out why the FCC would ever want to get involved in internet regulation. What possible need could there be for the United States federal government to concern itself with World of Warcraft, YouTube, Yahoo and Google? None whatsoever. Therefore, it seemed to me to be a very simple proposition: the FCC should be told to take a hike and keep their grubby little paws off the internet. After all, the FBI and Interpol are already doing a fine job of hunting down and collapsing child predator networks while every intelligence agency in the world monitors terrorists. In a very real sense, keeping the criminals online and active is a good thing because it makes it much easier for law enforcement to monitor their communications, gather evidence, and get convictions. It is the lack of regulation that is helping law enforcement do their job. To my mind, that is a good thing.
Today I finally learned what the real issue is. I suppose I should have assumed as much from the beginning, but I hadn't realized how powerful some internet service providers had become. Apparently, the real issue is who is going to collect the fees for maintaining and expanding the hardware and software that keep the internet up and running. Already we are seeing the formation of commercial monopolies that have captured regional markets. Instead of investing in new technologies some of them are using their financial resources to push through legislation which they can use to force competitors out of business.
Now that is a problem. This kind of idiocy is how we wound up with plastic car bumpers and failure-prone smoke detectors. I am not really an old man just yet, but I am no longer young. Over the past three decades of adulthood I have watched stupid ideas with no commercial value whatsoever get forced down our throats by people who use emotional appeals and fearmongering to convince society that their pretty little technomarvel is just the thing to bring about utopia. Their logic seems to be if we as consumers are unwilling to believe their hype then by golly the government ought to force us to make them rich.
Enough is enough. If your idea won't sell, or if your competitor won't let you into their market, that's just how the cookie crumbles. Go back to the drawing board and come up with a better idea, one that will give the competition's customers every reason in the world to give you their money instead of the big guy who's been around longer and already has an efficient operation in place. Instead of expanding the scope and reach of government we need to start trimming back this leviathan. It is time to force the beast back into its cage and lock it down once and for all.
Level 3 needs to renegotiate their contract with Comcast in the quiet boardrooms of the two companies and keep their business out of the public sphere. If Level 3 doesn't like the deal Comcast is offering, then they need to trim their costs, expand their own infrastructure, and give consumers a real reason to shift their spending away from Comcast. Don't go crying to the government just because you don't like the competition. The world of business is not a schoolyard, Comcast is not a playground bully. Give consumers a better deal and you'll fix the problem. If Comcast's customers don't like the service they receive or the prices Comcast charges, then offer them something better! If you are dependent on Comcast to carry your product to the enduser, then you have to pay the fees Comcast charges. It does not matter if those fees are specifically designed to make your product less attractive than their inhouse product. In professional circles people call that kind of scheme "a good business plan" and that is exactly what it is. If you don't like it, come up with a better plan and then steal their customers away by offering a better value.
Remember Prodigy? Remember Compuserve? Remember AOL? The internet is a business and like any business, some companies will succeed, some will fail, new companies will come along, old companies will vanish. The beauty of the business world is that as long as the government does not get involved, it truly is self-regulating. Consumers, the people, make their buying decisions for their own reasons. Businesses that anticipate those reasons and meet the needs of consumers will rise, business that fail to anticipate those reasons or fail to meet the needs of consumers will fall. If you're one of the failures, then yes, it hurts deep and it feels personal, but it's not. Being a lifelong failure myself I empathize deeply, but that does not mean the government needs to step in every time some company misses a beat and vanishes from the landscape.
We don't need the FCC or anyone else to regulate the internet. I already have to put up with smoke detectors going off for no reason, plastic bumpers that scratch and tear every time I look at them funny, and government inspectors that can walk onto my land without a warrant to check my house, check my septic, check my plumbing, check my electric, check my gas lines, and then order me to spend money fixing things that aren't even broken. We don't need more government in the internet or anywhere else. We need the government to go back to doing what it does best: provide for the common defense, preserve interstate commerce, and negotiate peace treaties with stupidly aggressive nations. Rather than FCC bureaucrats determining which companies rise and fall, we need someone with the courage to blast Pyonyang and Tehran back into the stone age before they start throwing around nuclear warheads. The federal government of the United States needs to spend less time worrying about the free citizens of this great nation and more time worrying about the enemies of free enterprise and free thinking. Comcast is not the enemy, neither is Level 3. Netflix might stress the internet, but that will only inspire someone to come up with a better, faster internet than the one we already have. Hopefully they'll make a fortune doing it.
The enemy of the modern world is Marxism and religious fascism. Our enemies are fanatics of any stripe or color who believe that their personal values are the key to bringing utopia and the willingness to kill or maim anyone who has a different vision. Drug cartels, child porn networks, terrorists, violent activists, and petty criminals are the only enemies the government needs to concern itself with. It is not the government's job to relieve poverty, cure climate change, and make sure my house doesn't burn down in my sleep. Those are value-based choices that each of make as individuals. We make the choices. Whether we live or die based on the consequences of those choices is not the responsibility of government. It is the sole responsibility of the person who makes the choice. It only becomes the government's responsibility when that choice violates someone else's freedom, or brings about someone else's death through clear neglect or outright sadism. Mistakes will be made, naturally, and some of those mistakes will be fatal, but that is not the realm of government control either.
There is no utopia this side of heaven. Bigger, more powerful governments with the freedom to dictate every detail of our lives will not bring us happiness. Did Mao bring happiness to the Chinese people? Did Hitler bring happiness to Germany? Did Stalin bring happiness to Russia and the countries controlled by the former Soviet Union? Have the Ayatollahs brought happiness to Iran? How many North Korean citizens are happy?
People are only happy when they have the freedom to prosper. In order to have the freedom to prosper, they must also have the freedom to fail. The geater the safety net the government provides, the lower the potential ceiling a person can aspire to. If the FCC gets involved in regulating internet content then I can guarantee you the results will be the opposite of what net neutrality's supporters are promising. It's the nature of the beast. Government regulations don't bring freedom, they can only inhibit freedom. Every time you inhibit freedom, you also inhibit diversity and free discourse. The surest way to bring about the dystopian internet the proponents of net neutrality are predicting is to get the FCC involved in regulating internet traffic flow. The cyberspace landscape they are seeing is indeed a potential nightmare and if we pursue a government-imposed net neutrality that is exactly where we will find ourselves.
December 04, 2010
I'm looking around at today's diverse political landscape and to my own surprise, I am delighted at what I see. Despite the fact that we are heading into a complete and total collapse of the global economy (or maybe because of it) I find I am truly privileged to be witnessing the growth of what could become the most critical presidential race in over a century.
In the days and weeks ahead there will be thousands of "experts" cheering for their favorites and working hard to convince you and I who should be the next president. To be honest, up until this morning I couldn't care less what the experts were saying. However, all that changed when I read this:
Big Journalism: WikiLeaks Useful Idiots
Very, very interesting. Hands down the most interesting response to the WikiLeaks fiasco I have yet encountered. Inspiring, really.
For the Democratic ticket I want to see Hilary Clinton and starting today I will do everything in my limited power to make it happen.
For the Republican ticket I want to see Sarah Palin and starting today I will do everything in my limited power to make it happen.
The Tigeress and the Mama Grizzly. Now that would an epic face-off!
I have chosen my preferred candidates. Now comes the hard part.
As a footnote, watch this video. It demonstrates clearly why finding a way out of this mess is so important. Capitalism and free markets have brought us the healthiest, longest-living, wealthiest world in history and even though inequalities exist, they are the exception to the rule.
November 24, 2010
Before I start, let me be perfectly clear on one thing: I did not support the war in Iraq. Not going in and not now. It is, in my never humble opinion, the single biggest mistake any president has made in my lifetime. However, once there, President Bush stuck to his guns, kept out of the military's way, and let them get the job done as best they could. Assuming the right prevails, the Islamic Caliphate sought by Al Qaeda and its supporters fails, and somehow our world manages to overcome the insidious spread of Marxist utopian thinking that has come to dominate our intelligentsia, then this war will be remembered by historians both inside and outside Iraq as a war of liberation. However, sometimes even a necessary war is an immoral war. What makes the Iraq War immoral is not the existence of some secret conspiracy to destablize the region. While there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein's regime was brutal and needed to be destroyed, the timing of our entry into that war alongside the unforgivably bad intelligence used to justify it mean that in the end the war must be judged immoral. It was not the right time. The outside world did not have enough information about conditions inside Iraq until afterwards. In another decade the situation proably would have resolved itself, perhaps in two decades, but either way, it was the responsibility of the Iraqi people and not the United States. We never should have gone in there, but having gone in, it is good that we stayed until the job was finished. It would have been more immoral to walk away from the mess and leave the country a smoking ruin.
Okay, with that out of the way, let state straight up that "Decision Points" is quite possibly the single most important book written during my lifetime. There is a certain poetry in this, that the worst decision would create the most important book, and yet, it should not be surprising. The mark of an adult is that we learn from our mistakes and then we pass on that knowledge to the next generation. If you are a teacher of history, English, or literature at the high school or college level you need to immediately add this book to your required reading lists. Drop "Ulysses" by James Joyce, from literature classes in high school and college, it is boring and nihilistic in the extreme anyway, and add "Decision Points".
The book is not chronological, not is it entirely autobiographical in the traditional sense. President Bush has divided the book into fourteen sections, each corresponding to a critical decision made before or during his presidency. There is a treasure trove of historical information in these pages with quotes from staff meetings, reprints of key documents, and fond remembrances that would take decades to discover digging through the papers and personal items of a dead president. This is exactly the kind of book a former president needs to write as soon after he leaves office as possible, while the memories are still fresh and many of the policy decisions are still be debated in the public forum. There is nothing arrogant, egoistic, or narcissistic about writing a book like this. As President Bush points out in his introduction,
"In the final year of my presidency, I began to think seriously about writing my memoirs. On the recommendation of Karl Rove, I met with more than a dozen distinguished historians. To a person, they told me I had an obligation to write. They felt it was important that I record my perspective on the presidency, in my own words."
For what it's worth, Mr. President, I agree. "Decision Points" will be read, reread, argued over, debated, written about, analyzed, and reinterpreted for the next century, possibly for the next few centuries. It is that important, it is that complete, and it is that detailed. There is currently no finer portrait in existence of a president performing his role as the highest executive in the nation with all the powers and limits that office entails. This book is an inside look at how the United States really functions out here in the real world where a president is under constant public scrutiny and every decision has consequences no one can ever completely predict. Every teenager in America should read this book, every college student should be required to discuss it. This book holds within its pages a realistic and honest reflection on how decisions are reached both in times of crisis and in times of peace.
There are many important things left out, mind you. After all, even a book by a former president has page limits. Many important questions raised by conspiracy theorists who believe 9/11 was an inside job are not even mentioned on these pages. In my opinion, this is a good thing. Instead, the book focuses on what happened, who it happened to, how the president learned about it, how he felt about it, how he analyzed it, and how he responded to it. Even business majors could benefit from the intimate, often painful reflections of a man forced to make hard decisions and then live with the consequences. One of the most important lessons I as a reader took away from this book is a greater appreciation for the fog of war and how it impacts the decisions a president is often forced to make with limited or (as in the case of the Iraq War) flat-out wrong information.
Consider, for example, this little anecdote recounted from the days immediately following the fall of Baghdad when everyone throughout the country was feverishly searching for Saddam's WMD stockpiles,
"At one point, the CIA heard that large canisters had been spotted from a bridge over the Eurphrates River. Navy frogmen deployed to the scene. They found nothing. A high-ranking official from the United Arab Emirates brought drawings of tunnels he believed Saddam had used to hide weapons. We dug up the ground. Nothing materialized."
There are places where I nearly cried, places where I laughed out loud, places where I cringed in painful anticipation, and even a few places where suspense held me so tense my shoulders began to ache. It is that kind of book. Since it covers what will go down in history as one of the most controversial presidencies of the modern age, how could it be anything else?
November 21, 2010
First read this: Fight Attendant Ordered to Remove Prosthetic Breast
Now watch this:
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution says:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Where is the "probable cause"? What "Warrants" have been issued? Where has a federal judge approved in detail which individuals will be searched and what items will be seized? Who swore the "Oath" and made the "affirmation" that every single passenger who boards a commercial airliner is a terrorist, that uncooperative children must be strip-searched, that cancer survivors must surrender their prosthetics?
At what point do we as grown men and women responsible for our own lives take up arms and revolt? At what point do we as Americans remember our sacred duty to preserve the freedoms bought by 234 years of bloodshed? At what point do we demand the government go back to living within the constraints of the Constitution?
We are a hair's breadth from tyranny, a hair's breadth! How much longer will we allow this? This is NOT making us safer! These procedures do NOT discourage terrorists! The only thing these procedures accomplish is the humiliation and degradation of law-abiding citizens! You are NOT a criminal! Do NOT let them treat you like one!
This is how sexual predators treat their victims. Why has our government sanctioned it?
November 02, 2010
John Titor: Time Traveller
The Turner Diaries at Wikipedia
Today, Brigit over at Home on the Range had this to say:
Do any of you recall reading of The Trojan Horse? No, not the computer term, the one known as the Wooden Horse, a device resorted to by the Greeks, after the death of Achilles, to capture Troy. The story is referred to in the Odyssey. Epēius, a skillful craftsman, constructed a very large wooden horse inside which picked Greek warriors, including Odysseus, were concealed. Then the Greek army sailed out of sight, leaving Sinon, one of their number, behind. He pretended to be a deserter and told the Trojans that the horse was an offering to Athena; if brought within the city it would render it impregnable. In spite of the warning given to the Trojans by Lāocǒon (a priest of Apollo) not to trust ‘Greek gifts’, the Trojans dragged the horse into the city. At night the Greeks came out of the horse and the city was taken. Virgil tells the tale of the horse in Aeneid 2.
Laocoon, follow'd by a num'rous crowd,
Ran from the fort, and cried, from far, aloud:
‘O wretched countrymen! What fury reigns
What more than madness has possess'd your brains
Think you the Grecians from your coasts are gone?
And are Ulysses' arts no better known?
This hollow fabric either must inclose,
Within its blind recess, our secret foes;
Or 't is an engine rais'd above the town,
T' o'erlook the walls, and then to batter down.
Somewhat is sure design'd, by fraud or force
Trust not their presents, nor admit the horse
In America, we either lift our prophets up on enormous pedestals or we ignore them completely. There does not seem to be any middle ground. We forget that the role of The Fool is still sacred and we ignore him to our own peril. Insanity and genius walk a razor's edge that Osama Bin Laden and Albert Einstein both share. To ignore either is to seal our own doom, and seal it quickly.
Today I am heading off to the polls to vote. A few of the votes I will cast scare me half to death because I am given a choice between two equally undesirable and potentially dangerous evils. A few of the votes are, at least to my mind, clear choices between Marxism and Freedom and those will be easy. Most of the choices are between good people sincere in their beliefs who happen to fall out on opposite sides of the ideological divide that tore through the United States with the election of Ronald Reagan and has continued unbroken and unabated to this day. That ideological divide is far more dangerous than either candidate, making my choice difficult without depriving me of hope that we as Americans can still find some way to bridge this division before it destroys us completely.
John Titor predicted a civil war between the haves and have nots. The Turner Diaries predicted a civil war between the whites and all other minorities. Many modern militia members don't believe either John Titor or Andrew Macdonald, but they see the division in American politics and they know that if it cannot be bridged, sooner or later revolution is inevitable. So I go to the polls today to cast my vote. I will not vote in complete compliance with the NRA, the Tea Party, the DNC, or the RNC. I will not vote in accordance with the teaching of Glenn Beck nor the satire of Bill Maher. I will not cast my votes on the basis of any single political ideology or platform. I will cast each vote for many different reasons, some economic, some cultural, and some personal, but behind each and every vote I cast today there will be this one common thread: will this vote move my homeland away from the abyss of violent confrontation between two irreconcilable radical agendas?
I look at John Titor and Andrew Macdonald and I see superimposed on both the tarot of The Fool, traditionally pictured as blissfully walking head first over a cliff or off a roof. The message of the fool is not that he is insane. The real message of the fool is that we are insane if we choose to follow him. Here today, November 2, 2010, that is the choice we each face as we walk into the polling booth and tap the electronic screen, punch our ballot card, or otherwise cast our vote. The real danger is not the socialist agenda of Barack Obama and George Soros nor the overt radicalism of men like Timothy McVeigh and Osama Bin Laden. The real danger is that we as a nation are poised on a precipice of full-scale civil war. If we do not change our entire cultural approach to conflict resolution then it will not matter who wins today and who loses. Either way, our nation will march merrily over that precipice, millions will die, and the nightmare scenarios of both John Titor and Andrew Macdonald will be realized right before our very eyes.
The only thing more dangerous than following The Fool is ignoring him.
October 19, 2010
MSNBC: Aggressive Goat Kills Hiker
MSNBC: Leaping Fish Injures Kayaker
Over the past couple weeks here in Japan there have been a number of programs about wild animals causing havoc in villages and towns. In one case a wild boar tore through a convenience store and in another a bear was shot after it refused to leave someone's garden. With this sudden upsurge in reports of dangerous wild animals it might seem nature has suddenly gone a little crazy or something. Wild conspiracy theories could get started about nature seeking revenge on evil humanity. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Natural systems and environments are not some kind of mystic energy cycles or spiritual havens of peace and tranquility. They have peaceful moments, and their beauty can inspire mystic connections, but those experiences are the exception not the rule. The natural world is a highly competitive place where life or death is decided on a daily basis. Systems collapse and are replaced with great frequency. Places like Yellowstone or Yosemite are not static eco-systems that need careful maintenance and preservation. They are not gardens. The natural world is complex, dynamic, and constantly changing, often in ways that are detrimental to humans. We are part and parcel of this highly competitive world and this is one of the reasons, perhaps even the main reason, that so many of us are naturally violent and aggressive. Rape, murder, terrorism, these are not "unnatural" acts of "insane" people (often men, but not always). These are survival skills that have brought our species through two billion years of evolution. Even though these behaviors are indeed undesirable and destructive in the midst of a civilized society, as long as we are human we will never be completely free of them.
The problem that arises is when we pack tens of thousands (or millions) of people into cities. A city is not a natural environment at all. It is far less natural than an ant hill, and far more destructive. Nonetheless, if we are ever going to succeed in taking the next step and freeing our species from the limits of this planet then cities are a necessary stepping stone. Densely populated cities not only concentrate our best and brightest in a single place, allowing them to work their magic and create the means for us to reach the stars, they also concentrate our most violent and most destructive. This is why crime is never going to be eliminated. The safest cities in the world still have their share of homicides, rapes, assaults, and other violent crimes.
Nature is not rebelling against us, nor have we abandoned our natural roots. The filthy, polluted, dangerous cities of our world are our best hope for a real future beyond the limited lifespan of this one planet. The best and brightest among us are also sometimes the most violent, but that violence must be reined in and controlled long enough to allow them to create new means of propulsion, new ways of preserving life, new ways of reaching out to the distant stars.
Everything works together. We must have cities, therefore we will have greater frequency of violence while at the same time seeking ways of controlling that violence. Some individuals are more violent than others, and they must have constructive outlets for that violence. When those outlets fail, each individual they encounter must have both the freedom and the means to defend themselves. Regardless of whether we are hiking a familiar trail, kayaking in shallow waters, or stopping alongside a highway, we must remain vigilant and we must be armed and trained in the use of those arms. There is never going to be an end to violence, therefore we must always practice vigilance and this will still be true once we leave this planet and head out among the stars.
We will eventually encounter another species, like ourselves, who has risen to the top of their own planet's evolutionary chain. When we do, it is certain this new "alien" humanity will share both our best traits and our worst. They will be intelligent, creative, intuitive, violent and destructive. If they were not, they could never break free of the bonds of gravity and environment.
Our modern "green" movement is not based on any kind of realistic assessment of the natural world. If this insane drive to force the bulk of the world's population to live in poverty (pardon me, "limited consumption of resources") succeeds the only real-world result is that no one will ever develop the technologies we must have to cross the vastness of outer space. The "green" movement's success would condemn us to spiraling populations, greater pollution, and even more destruction of the natural world. By denying the bulk of the world's population access to clean housing, pure water, healthy food, abundant energy, and comfortable material surroundings, you also destroy their freedom to think, imagine, and dream up new ideas. Everyone, regardless of where they are born, needs access to education and opportunities to put that education to work realizing their dreams. Denying them these things, or even taking away these things from those who already have them in order to arbitrarily pass them to someone who does not, will destroy humanity's ability to reach for the stars.
We don't need more "Earth-friendly" technologies when those technologies produce greater human suffering and limit the ability of any given individual to study, learn, and imagine a better future. We don't need socialist governments that shelter the "unfortunate" in a warm cocoon of minimal subsistence while simultaneously denying them the freedom to escape that cocoon. The one thing we do need is creation of social standards and judicial systems that target corrupt, self-centered elitists who by birth, education, or plain old narcissism honestly believe that they and they alone are entitled to the benefits of a civilized society while bearing none of the responsibilities. We need better ways of eliminating criminal politicians, criminal business leaders, and criminal educators who use their positions for personal self-aggrandizement and sensual indulgence. Corruption and the abuse of power are the real enemies of human society, not poverty, and most certainly not individual freedom.
What we really need to be planning, executing, and developing is a space-based, free-market economy that will provide opportunities and stimulate education in places like North Korea, Myanmar, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Eqypt, Palestine, and throughout the African continent.
October 05, 2010
I found this short, sad article on the PlayNC website today:
On October 5, 2010, all of the Lineage II servers will be merged. The eight existing servers will become two servers, one based in North America and one based in Europe.
•Aria, Bartz, Devianne, Phoenix and Sayha will merge and become Chronos (NA).
•Franz, Luna and Teon will merge and become Naia (EU).
I first encountered Lineage II at the 2003 Tokyo Game Show. I have written many posts about my experiences with Lineage II. Here are a few of them:
Play the Game, Don't Work It!
Nightfall, Crossdressing, and Genderbending
Normal People Have Real Lives
Meditations on the Day
Ruminitions and Ruminations
Little People with Big Agendas
Back in Action
Meditating on a Migraine
If you go back and read through the posts linked above you will find that even in games I have spent endless hours fighting against elitism, hypocrisy, and presumption. Lineage II is dying. Any game that merges eight servers into two with litte or no warning has reached a point of no return. No online game in history has ever recovered from such a loss of available ingame real estate. The same thing is driving people away from Lineage II that drove them away from Ultima Online, away from Tabula Rasa, and away from dozens, possibly hundreds of other games: arrogance and the sadism it encourages.
Games are competitive by design. Naturally Gamers are also competitive. Competition is what makes games, games. However, the true heart of what makes games enjoyable is something the real world lacks, namely, a sense of fair play. In a game, everyone competes on the basis of a fixed set of rules that are specifically designed to insure skill becomes the deciding factor in determining who wins and who loses. Games also allow a safe environment for wanton, liberal experimentation with situations that in the real world are fraught with peril. This is why so very many games are based in fantasy worlds of swords, sorcery, monsters, and dragons. Even if these things did exist, they would be far too dangerous for anyone without years of specialized training, and even then, many would die or suffer grievous bodily harm. Such a world would not be fun for ordinary people to live in.
Unfortunately, a fair percentage of human beings are not nice people. Whether genetics, upbringing, culture, or some other variable determines both who is nice and how it is defined is something I will deal with on another day. Today I want to focus on extreme gamers, the legendary "hardcore" gamers, especially those who feel their superior hardware or superior tactile dexterity entitle them to demean other players and destroy their ingame experience. There are far too many hardcore gamers who gain their pleasure not from succeeding within the rules of the game, but from bending those rules in ways that allow them to dominate and oppress other players.
That this group exists is something no one denies, not even those who belong to this group. That this group is terribly destructive of a game community is something that gets repeatedly pointed out, but unfortunately, sometimes there are people in positions of influence who not only sympathize with sadistic elitists, they idolize them. Many of the top people in the design and management team for Lineage II began their gaming experience playing Ultima Online. Many of them were banned or blocked from playing because of their ingame behavior. As a result, many of them pay lip service to "casual players" while doing everything in their power to discourage casual players from staying in Lineage II. For example, many management decisions which are ostensibly aimed at eliminating the seconadary market actually accomplish just the opposite. By design, and what appears to be deliberate intent, these mangers seek out and eliminate only those secondary market participants who challenge or threaten the players and guilds they favor. The management team encourages and indirectly aids the ingame experience of the worst behaved players because when they were players, this was their preferred playstyle. In their minds, casual players are insane, deluded, naive, and foolish. To them, the only purpose of a game is domination, complete domination. It is the only type of gameplay they enjoyed, and the only type they encourage.
Over time, even if they love the game they are playing, anyone who does not subscribe to the complete domination gameplay model is forced out of the game. They are stalked, harassed, repeatedly attacked by groups of players who are not only higher levels and better equipped, they outnumber the besieged casual player by at least three to one, and often by ten, fifteen, or twenty to one. Any casual player who objects to this treatment is told they must either join the sadists or find a different game.
Does this sound familiar? Have you noticed any similarities between the group of players I am describing and the problems that are destroying Western civilization? You should, because the same priority system that drives liberal progressivism and radical Islam is driving these players. The assumption of any individual that they alone possess the right, proper, correct view of life while any who disagree are ignorant, insane, or deluded is the core of everything that is wrong with the modern world. That such people run in packs should not come as a surprise. Was not the theme of the October 2nd rally "One Nation"? It is the same theme shared by the most sadistic, domineering Lineage II guilds as well as those members of the Lineage II management team who encourage these guilds. In the minds of such people, whether they are gamers, game managers, business managers, or politicians, there are only two kinds of people in the world: the smart, "enlightened" ones who agree with them, and those who do not deserve to share their world.
Glenn Beck brings to the forefront what most of us already know: this is the final hour, the final season of choice. November's election will transform our country for another generation, maybe two. Will we transform it into a land of limited government where individuals can reach for the stars or collapse into obscurity with equal ease, or will we transform it into a land where the majority live on the edge of survival while an educated elite dictates every moment of their waking life?
There is no utopia. Will we choose a dystopian future that allows individuals of skill, drive, and initiative to succeed, or will we choose a dystopia with government domination of daily life? There will always be the poor, the unfortunate, and the foolish but only one future will insure that those who have the will to succeed will also have the freedom to do so. The ideology of progressivism has a track record of consistent failure. The ideology of freedom has a track record of stunning successes broken by the occasional dismal failure. Both futures will bring pain and suffering because pain and suffering is part and parcel of the human condition. There is no way to avoid it.
The one thing you can do is this: you can choose a future that allows success and rewards those who succeed. Then through hard work and dedication you can participate in that same system of success and reward. It won't be heaven on earth, but it will be far better than the hell that progressivism has always produced.
Progress isn't progress because no one is left behind. Progress is progress because those who have the drive and ability to move forward also have the freedom to do so and having done so, they are allowed to keep the rewards they earn. "Progressivism" with it's promise of utopia achieved through total control and total elimination of the rewards of hard work and ambition is not "progress" at all. It is a return to feudalism where birth determines who has access to the fruits of everyone else's hard work.
October 04, 2010
In 1992 I worked for Berlitz Schools of Languages in Japan. During the seven or eight years I worked for Berlitz I met English teachers from dozens of countries. One woman I worked with was named Samantha Nicole Ridgway. Over time she and I become very good friends. We often had lunch together, and once or twice we went drinking together. Everyone else called her "Sam", but I called her "Nicole" because I just could not bring myself to calling someone so feminine, so vibrant, and so alive "Sam". She was quite thrilled that I chose to call her by her middle name. She told me on several occasions that when she was young she hated being called "Sam" but no one wanted to call her Nicole. I remember she explained the reason to me, but now, all these years later, I cannot recall what it was about "Nicole" that she liked so much but everyone she knew disliked.
One day she called me in a bit of a panic. She needed someone to talk to who was neutral. Her sister Carita, who was also in Tokyo, had disappeared and no one seemed to know where she was. We talked for awhile, and I tried to encourage her, reminding her that Tokyo was one of the safest cities in the world, at least officially. What people who live here know intimately, what the press likes to ignore, and what never makes it into the official figures, is that the vast majority of crime in Tokyo does not get reported. On those rare occasions when someone does report it, the police insert themselves as negotiators, some form of compensation is arrived at, and the crime itself goes unrecorded. This can even occur in violent crimes such as rape or murder, although it is rare (at least officially). One thing I learned early on in Japan is to never, ever trust any kind of "official" statistics the government publishes. The numbers are always massaged to present whatever agenda is being put forward by either the government itself or the person doing the presenting. Truth is a rare commodity in modern Japan, so rare that even those who have access to it will often pretend it does not exist at all.
Nicole's sister reappeared on Monday. Someone named "Nishida" had checked her into a Kichijoji hospital. Her sister died later that night. The official prognosis at the time was that "Nishida" had given her a "muscle relaxant" after she had been heavily drinking wine without realizing that the wine in her system would react with the muscle relaxant, causing permanent liver failure. Nicole was despondent. Over the next few days I met her mother and spent time with both women trying to offer them my condolences in any way possible. Nicole had a Japanese boyfriend and he helped them through most of the paperwork and procedures to arrange for the cremation of Carita's body and the release that would allow them to take her ashes back to Australia. It is one of my darkest memories of Japan and will forever taint my perspective on the people and culture.
Over time, Nicole and I both moved from place to place and we eventually lost touch. The very last I heard she was marrying an American and trying to become a stewardess. I don't know if she ever succeeded, but I have always wished her well and I think of her often. From time to time, I plug her name into various internet search engines trying to see if she has shown up somewhere in cyberspace. After all, to one extent or another, everyone is in here somewhere!
This time I was horrified to discover these:
Japan Times: Trail to Obara Overlooked in '92 Death
The Age: A Tale of Rape, Murder, and a Japanese Playboy
Brisbane Times: Evil Behind Tokyo's Lights
Sydney Morning Herald: Father May Accept $1 Million from Daughter's Killer
I just spent this morning looking into the grotesque 10:10 commercial on global warming. A commercial so revolting I will not even link to it. Now I discover that Nicole's sister Carita, whom I never met, was raped and murdered by the same man who killed Lucie Blackman! The "muscle relaxant" was not a pill at all! It was chloroform and he overdosed her, leading to her death.
You know, if God Almighty were to ask my opinion of humanity here and now...but he won't.
There are many good, beautiful spirits in people in this world. Samantha Nicole Ridgway was, and no doubt remains, one of them. I never met her sister Carita, but knowing Nicole and having met her mother, I imagine she was just as vibrant and deserving of life as the two of them. Why her father would ever consider accepting blood money is beyond my comprehension, especially since here in Japan accepting that money would probably get Joji Obara's sentence cut in half because the money would be seen as clear recompense for the loss of his daughter. There are at least two, and probably dozens of families who lost daughters to the depravity of Joji Obara. To my mind, he deserves the death penalty, but Japan no longer has a death sentence, in no small part because of its barbaric application to political enemies in the not so distant past.
Nicole, wherever you are, if you stumble across this blog I want you to know that I still think of you often and fondly. I wish I could have been there to help you through the painful period where the events surrounding your sister's death were dragged out and paraded before an incredulous and disbelieving public. I cannot begin to imagine the pain that must have caused. I am so sorry that Japan took so much from you. I don't know if it is any condolence, but the death of your sister still darkens my own memory of life in Japan, even though I never met her. I'm sorry I wasn't there when you needed me to be there. I hope someone was. I hope beyond hope that somehow, despite all this pain, you still look out on each new day with optimism and joy.
October 03, 2010
Back in March, 2009 I wrote this: A Deadly, Persistent Swarm of Gnats. To be successful, this kind of attack takes considerably more planning and logistical preparation than most people realize. It has been two years since a small band of terrorists made a mockery of Indian gun control laws and police forces. The key to their success was the sure knowledge that no one other than the local police would be armed, and they would only be lightly armed. Apparently, a Chicago man named David Headley helped scout the area some time prior to the attack itself. A footnote to be sure, but one which clearly illustrates how complex the planning and preparation is for this style assault on a soft target.
According to the MSNBC report above, there is considerable evidence that such an attack might now be planned for Europe. One might ask why Europe? Why not New York or Chicago? If I might offer an opinion, my suspicion is that the terrorists know full well that there are far more armed Americans running around with concealed weapons permits than there are Europeans. Even though the number is still relatively small, it is large enough that anyone planning a swarm-style attack on shopping malls, residential neighborhoods, and so on would have to take into consideration the very real possibility that their men might pull out AK-47s and grenades only to find themselves facing man for man well-armed, equally competent American men and women who are both willing and able to end their assualt before it even begins.
This kind of threat is very real. The first and best line of defense against such an attack has always been, and still remains, an armed and trained populace. Next time someone tells you that Americans don't need their "sick" fascination with guns, remind them that if half a dozen terrorists armed with AK-47s and grenades show up at their local shopping mall it would be very helpful to have a equal number of "crazy gun nuts" scattered through the crowd enjoying a day out with their families. The presence of such men and women would save lives by ending the attack while it was still in the opening stages.
Radical terrorists of all stripes be warned. If you try a swarm attack in my hometown I'll be there waiting for you, and I will not be alone.
September 30, 2010
Unrelated, but to my mind, equally important:
Space.com: Odds of Life on Newfound Earth-Size Planet '100 Percent'
YouTube Video of Megan Kelly: DOJ Whistleblower Claims Massive Voter Fraud Approved by Adminstration
Sam Samford Video: Ronald Reagan "It's Morning in America Again"
Sam Samford Video: Stan Jones, "Communist World Government is Coming"
And now that I have gathered these here for your reading and viewing pleasure, I am going to go play City of Heroes.
I have done everything in my power to provide the modern world the information it needs to face the next ten years. For seven years I have kept this blog. There are 336 posts. Some of them are silly, some of them are serious, but all of them are honest. I have given the world everything I have to offer. About 15 people a day visit this blog. Probably they are all different. According to the new "stats" tab that Blogger has provided, over the past two months 1,706 people from a dozen countries have stopped in to see what I have to say. I am overwhelmed.
But mostly, right now I am on vacation and probably should be concentrating on emptying my mind of politics, business, the collapsing economy, and the future of humanity. Someone I haven't heard from in over two months sent me an article today called "UN Report says "Humanity at Risk" if Climate Problems are Not Tackled".
The real point of all this randomness is quite simple: The Earth will kill off people long before people are powerful enough to kill off the Earth.
Sorry folks, but dem's da facts! The Earth is not in danger. If we screw the system up enough, we will die off completely and some other species will evolve to take our place. Why do I believe this? Because I believe in both science and divinity. There is a master plan unfolding right before our very eyes. Our individual choices have a profound influence on how that plan unfolds, but all six billion of us together are still not powerful enough to stop it from unfolding.
The future is in God's hands. Our sacred duty is to earn our place in that future, not in the sense of heaven and hell and judgement, but in the sense of building a society open enough and productive enough to carry humanity beyond the confines of our homeworld. If we cannot accomplish this one task, then God will try a different form of sentience and he will keep trying until he succeeds.
If he has to, he will wipe the slate and start over again. That is, after all, his perogative.
So as you go about your daily lives, as you work, play, make love, make war, find new friends, and create new enemies, try to keep in mind that if humanity cannot break free from the bonds of Earth and our miniscule solar system, then we have no real future at all! Your life, my life, each individual life holds the absolute key to carrying our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren into the vastness of infinite space. Out there, among the stars, galaxies, and universes, there is no limit to how many people can survive and how long our species can carry forward. If you are not doing something to help us break free of Gaia's loving embrace, then you are contributing to our eventual doom.
Make your choices count. In your personal life, in the lives of your friends and family, and in the lives of your community. Not because it is right or moral, but because if you do not live your live in honesty and service then you condemn yourself to an early grave and you condemn your descendents to a certain and most unpleasant death when our Sun finally expands enough to transform Earth into a global desert.
The future of humanity lies in the choices you make every single day. Like it or not, everything rests on your individual shoulders. Theist or atheist, Marxist or Jeffersonian, none of that really matters. The only thing that really matters is how honestly you live your life and how well you serve the people around you. There is no other reality worth considering. None whatsoever.
September 27, 2010
...or so it seems.
I have been in Japan for about ten days now. I am not at all happy to be here. So far I have been drafted into unpacking boxes and boxes of personal items that do not belong to me and that I will never use. Twice I have been dragged down to an open stadium and made to watch professional baseball games in the rain. Although, the first time we did leave early. Not yesterday, though. Yesterday we stayed until the very end. Last time I spent that much time sitting in rain for no reason at all I was in the Army. I don't even like professional sports, let alone Japanese baseball.
It's not a total loss. I did buy a new camera. It's waterproof down to about 20 feet, mildly shockproof, and has a titanium case. I got a 32 GB Smart Card to go with it, which will allow about 7000 pictures or 10 hours of video at the highest quality settings on the camera. Now all I have to do is find something worth recording!
September 14, 2010
At first glance, the video above seems nothing more than a racist effort to create a pure Jewish homeland. However, there are a couple of important subtexts that need pointing out:
1> Many Jews and Jewish politicians object to this policy
2> It only applies to children not enrolled in school who don't speak Hebrew
Then there is also this:
Y-Net Op-ed: Who are the Palestinians?
AFP: Hamas says peace talks are "humiliating and degrading"
AFP: Clinton resuming "last chance" peace talks
Sydney Morning Herald: Urgent moves to avert peace talks failure
CNN: U.S. Preparing massive arms deal for Saudi Arabia
CNN: Three Palestinians dead in shelling
UPI: Iran's "invisible man" runs terror network
Arab News: Assad says peace with Israel "hard to imagine"
American Thinker: Reaping the whirlwind
Right from the very beginning Pres. Obama has clearly communicated that in the Middle East his first loyalty is to the Palestinian Arabs because he considers them an oppressed people. Of the hundreds of references to Israel and the Palestinians in speeches and interviews only once has he clearly stated that there is a long and beneficial relationship between the United States and Israel and even then he stopped short of dedicating himself to the defense of Israel should the surrounding nations attack. The Jewish people and their elected representatives are not fools. They know that Pres. Obama does not support them, nor does he support their right to exist. In the event of a coordinated attack on Israel he will not immediately leap to their defense. He will delay an American response as long as he can in the hope that the Jewish nation will be destroyed long before American forces can be sent to their aid.
The Jewish people are expecting the peace talks to fail. After the talks fail, they expect to be attacked. What we are seeing in Israel is an effort to quietly draw together and tighten their ranks in preparation for a war that now appears to be inevitable. Biblical and Qu'ranic prophecy aside, a war between Israel and the surrounding Arab nations here and now would have a polarizing effect on the world at large. Anti-semitic neo-Nazi groups throughout Europe and the United States would be galvanized in opposition to any move on behalf of their governments to assist Israel. They would be joined by local Muslim communities that in some European countries now make up nearly one-third of the total population. Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah would immediately take up arms in support of their Arab financial backers and execute terror strikes throughout the Western World. The Unholy Alliance I wrote about back in June would immediately spring into action with a massive propoganda campaign in support of the Arabs and Palestinians. Our entire world would be at war with itself. Your neighbors and friends would suddenly be your enemies and violent confrontations would break out in local bars, offices, and shopping malls.
There is no way to overestimate the damage such a conflict would have on our modern world. We can only underestimate it. Oil exports from the Middle East would slow to a trickle and possibly stop altogether, bringing trade and industry worldwide to a complete halt. Food, clothing, and even building supplies would become scarce commodities. Water pumps feeding towns and cities throughout the industrialized world would grind to a halt. When the dust finaly settled and the smoke cleared, China would be the only nation left with a stable economy and a standing army of any size.
September 10, 2010
From "The Mind of Jihad", by Laurent Murawiec, page 108:
"In the history of Islam, one myth has powerfully anchored millenarian phantasies of all kinds virtually from the beginnings of the religion: that of the Mahdi."
Fanaticism, regardless of what drives it, is the eternal enemy of civilization. Hitler, Tojo, Mao, Stalin, these are the nightmares of our most recent past and all of them drew their power from the fires of fanatic devotion to some imagined ideal that could not be realized in the everyday world of work, children, family, and friends. These men, like countless others before them and thousands around us in today's world, could not be bothered to think, reason, feel, or forgive. Their passion drove them to what in their minds were godlike powers and achievements but for the rest of us these same goals created a living hell on Earth. They believed themselves so far above the rest of us that by comparison we were insects and they were gods.
This problem is not new. Consider Gudea of Lagash. Gudea rose to prominence sometime after an external group known only as the "Gutians" swept through the various city-states of Sumer and Akkad leaving destruction and terror in their wake. Gudea drove them from his hometown of Lagash, re-established trade with territories still free of Gutian control, and rebuilt the critical temple to Ningishzida, the patron diety of the city. He led his people on the basis of honor, devotion to the gods, and piety. So powerful was the memory of his short reign over Lagash that his statues remained objects of worship and devotion until the Muslim onslaught of the Southern Mesopotamian plain in the 7th Century A.D. And what did the Muslim raiders do when they discovered dozens of diorite statues dedicated to this simple, pious leader who led his people from slavery to freedom? They chopped off the heads and buried them in a separate location from the bodies of the statues.
Christianity is not free from such history, naturally. Salem will forever burn in the memory of Americans as one place that symbolizes the excesses that Christianity can produce. But the Crusaders did not destroy mosques, palaces, and merchant houses when they swept through the Levant. They did pillage them, and sent many items back to their hometowns as trophies of war, but they did not desecrate the Muslim holy sites, they did not forbid the Muslims from meeting in their mosques and praying, nor did they prohibit Muslims living in the Levant from trading with other people. This tolerance of non-military Muslim residents proved to be their undoing, however, as many of these people who they lived side-by-side with provided both intelligence and support to the spies and troops of Saladin during the Third Crusade.
Greed drove the Akkadians to conquer the Southern Mesopotamian city-states in 2350 B.C. Fanaticism drove the Gutians to sweep through both Sumer and Akkad in 2150 B.C., leaving only misery in their wake. Piety drove Gudea to rebel against the Gutians and rebuild the temple to his city's patron god. Then fanaticism once again buried Lagash beneath the sands of Southern Iraq in about 650 A.D. where it lay hidden until it was first uncovered in 1887 A.D. and only finally identified in 1953 A.D.
Simple, everyday fanaticism ranges from the Qu'ran burning Rev. Terry Jones to the Victory Mosque building Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. This kind of personal fanaticism in turn provides propoganda fuel for the terrorism of Al Qaeda and the militancy of the Taliban. The sad truth of fanaticism is that it has been part and parcel of human existence from the very dawn of recorded history and will no doubt remain with us until we finally destroy ourselves completely.
Unless, of course, God himself uses an act of nature to destroy us first.
August 29, 2010
On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. finished his "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" with a ten-minute speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Often called the "I Have a Dream Speech", after his death the theme of this speech became a foundational pillar of the American civil rights movement. Around 200,000 people participated in Dr. King's march and listened to his speech, many of them traveling to Washington in the face of clear, specific threats of violence.
The video above is video I took on that same day in 2010. The area around the Reflecting Pool was too crowded, so I was forced to take a position in the field on the south side of the tree line. My video covers only half the crowd of people who gathered in Washington D.C. for Glenn Becks' "Restoring Honor" rally. The focus of the rally was more spiritual than political. It reminded me of the many "revival" meetings I used to attend early in my Christian walk. When I look at videos of Dr. King's 1963 speech, it also carries with it a strong revivalist message. There is, however, one profound difference. Glenn Beck's message was clearly focused on individualism while Dr. King's was clearly collectivist.
Dr. King was not telling his people to be proud of who they were as individuals. His speech was defiant, placing the black collective against the white collective. He called for reconciliation, but the bulk of the message is a condemnation of white America, a condemnation that in my opinion was clearly deserved in that moment in time but is no longer appropriate. Trying to revive the idea that blacks are still oppressed and whites are their oppressor in today's world in the way that Al Sharpton does in his "competing" rally flies in the face of the many successful black Americans in every aspect of American life. There are blacks, hispanics, natives, asians, arabs, and persians in every social and economic sphere of modern American life. Without exception, any "racism" that still exists in these United States exists only in the minds of certain individuals who cannot rise above a Marxist or Fascist belief in the domination of one group over another. It does not matter if the individual in question believes they have the right to dominate or claims to be oppressed. Both situations are no longer part and parcel of life in America. Our nation's laws, social assumptions, and cultural aspirations have long since risen above racist or ethnic condemnation. It is no longer a problem here. It has not been a problem here for at least twenty years, and probably closer to thirty.
Here is a small selection of media responses to both Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" and Al Sharpton's "Reclaim the Dream".
CNN Belief Blog: "Beck positions himself as new Christian conservative leader"
MSNBC News: "Dueling rallies mark King speech anniversary"
MSNBC Video: "Dueling rallies about God and country"
ABC News: "Glenn Beck appeals to restore, Al Sharpton commemorates"
SF Chronicle "City Brights" blog: "Restoring honor: the "I have a dream" speech anniversary"
I was there. The one thing that no one in the news media has picked up on for some reason is that a large block of the participants in both rallies were exactly the same people. Yes, it's true. About one in three people from "Reclaim the Dream" were people who had also attended "Restoring Honor". This group wore their "Restoring Honor" shirts to Sharpton's rally and their "Reclaim the Dream" shirts to Beck's rally. If you really want to understand what is happening at the grassroots level in today's America then you must understand the motivations of this group of people.
I personally talked to about three dozen people who attended both rallies. The individuals I spoke with, and I admit it is a miniscule sampling, all had a few things in common: they were worried about the future, they had attended at least one Tea Party/9-12 meeting, they voted either Republican or Democrat depending on who they liked, and they were personally connected to the military. Some were active military, some were veterans, and some were spouses of people currently deployed. No one is speaking to or for these people. If we extrapolate this tiny sampling all across America, there could potentially be ten million tax-paying voters with direct personal ties to the military who feel no one in politics represents their interests. Both sides of the cultural debate ignore them, which is probably fine because these people are morally and ethically repulsed by the great effort in American media and politics to divide our country into dozens of tiny political factions.
I went to "Restoring Honor" expecting to learn something about the dynamics of the culture war being waged in our media between Marx-inspired collectivists and Jefferson-inspired individualists. I came away from the day with an even greater respect for the American people themselves. The American people know the direction they want the country to take. It is neither greater socialism nor a complete reversal of the past half-century of social change. If the three dozen or so individuals I spoke with are any indication, then this group of people who attended both rallies with equal vigor want one thing and one thing only: they want the government to lower taxes, reduce the bureaucracy, and get the hell out of their way so they can build a better life for their children.
Oh, and one last thought. They do not see themselves as black, white, native, hispanic, asian, arab, persian, socialist, conservative, liberal, democrat, or republican. They see themselves as Americans!
August 27, 2010
According to Webster's New World dictionary:
honor: 1. high regard or respect; esp., a)glory; fame b) good reputation 2. adherence to principles considered right; integrity
The Bible often mentions honor, but only as a way of showing respect to parents, the aged, the king, and of course, God. Webster's definition is not much, defining honor in rather general terms and making it virtually a synonym for respect. So what is this quality we call, "honor"?
Honor begins in the heart. This is why it is so easily dismissed by those who refuse to incorporate it into their own life. Modern science has worked very hard to remove the concepts of honor, love, and generosity from daily life. Social scientists recast them in shades of self-preservation, revealing the deep narcissism of the sociologist rather than discrediting the principle itself. Still, narcissism is a very common frame of mind in today's world and as a result, many have dismissed honor as old-fashioned and unnecessary. Sometimes they will even go so far as to label honor narcissistic. They do this by utilizing a perverse form of transference that runs through progressivism like a cancer. "Modern", "progressive", and "global" have all become words used to discredit anyone who displays honor, love, and generosity by labeling that person old-fashioned, ignorant, conservative, and worst of all, bigoted. The implication is that a principled heart is unwelcome in the modern age of enlightened self-interest, which is a fancy way of describing narcissism and making it seem somehow superior to traditional values.
I am a traditionalist. I have always been a traditionalist. I will die a traditionalist.
But none of that really defines the word, "honor".
So what is it?
Honor, to me, begins with the recognition that the individual is both sacrosanct and irrelevant. Sacrosanct because it is only through empowering the individual that society can hope to survive and flourish, irrelevant because no one is the center of the universe. We need each other the way a flower needs sunshine, a fish needs water, and a deer needs a meadow. Honor is the glue that binds us together in mutual respect because it starts by both recognizing the importance of the individual and reminding the individual that alone they are powerless.
It is honor that compels me to acknowledge that yes, the Cordoba Initiative does have the legal and moral right to build an Islamic Community Center and Shari'a university only two blocks from the site of the most destructive Islamic terrorist attack against American people and property in the history of our nation. An attack planned and carried out by Islamic fighters trained by the American C.I.A. to fight against Soviet invaders in Afghanistan. Honor also compels me to acknowledge the blind, arrogant, and narcissistic actions of the American Congress when they abandoned the people of Afghanistan once the Soviet forces departed. I understand all of that, however, it is also honor that refuses to justify the actions of the terrorists, refuses to let them be called "heroes", and demands the Cordoba Initiative relocate their community center somewhere at least eight or ten blocks away. American actions following the Soviet departure were indeed dishonorable, but that does not justify the murder of over two thousand people, many of whom in life could not have located Afghanistan on a map. It was not their fault. They did not deserve to die. Their killers do not deserve to be memorialized.
Honesty derived from realism is part and parcel of honor, but honor goes beyond honesty. Honor recognizes that although a fact is a fact, truth is illusive and hard to define. It is a fact that the C.I.A. trained the team leaders of the four teams of five terrorists that destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon, and murdered over two thousand people. Honor stops with the fact itself, refusing to derive from that fact some "truth" implicating the American government, the citizens of Afghanistan, or some foreign intelligence agency. The facts of the attack are brutal enough on their own that deriving some complicated conspiracy from them would be dishonorable.
Why? Because in order for such a conspiracy to be concocted the conspiracist must assume they are the center of all creation with access to greater facts, greater intelligence, and greater truth than the sum total of the information available to the rest of us. Every conspiracy begins in narcissism, either because the participants believe they are entitled to something the rest of us do not deserve or because the observers prefer their imaginative recreation to a simple recognition of the facts. Narcissism is the death of honor, and honor is the only way to counter the narcissistic tendencies that each and every one of us possess. Of course you feel like the center of the universe, so do I, but that does not make it real and honor is the internal mechanism used to counter the delusion of narcissism. Honor reminds me that facts are facts and speculation must not be confused with facts.
But that as well brings us full circle. Describing "honor" as the counter to narcissism does not define what it is, only what it achieves. Nor have I yet addressed the relationship between honor and the idea that somehow the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and society must be homogenized into a collective whole capable of standing against some other collective whole. If honor is the realization of irrelevance, then are socialism, Marxism, theocracy, and other collectivist ideals merely a more modern form of honor?
No. In fact, honor is just the opposite. Regardless of what we label them or how appealing their promised utopia might be, all forms of collectivism are dishonorable.
Collectivism seeks a utopia where regardless of individual strengths and weaknesses each individual is so totally subsumed within the whole that the whole must provide their needs even if the whole has no use for them. Collectivism disempowers the individual because it prevents them from realizing their individual strengths, building on those strengths, and working to overcome their weaknesses. The collectivist is always a narcissist because the collectivist believes that they are inherently superior to everyone around them and any personal failure is not related to their own individual weaknesses. When collectivists find themselves in positions of influence they immediately begin looking for ways to deprive other individuals of the fruit of their labor. This is because the collectivist depends upon the whole to provide their sense of empowerment. A collectivist believes they are inherently superior and because of this belief, when they find themselves in control of the resources of the community they use those resources to enhance their own position either through conspicuous consumption or through bribery, and often through both. Egalitarianism is their sermon, but self-indulgence and self-aggrandizement are their lifestyle. Honor is the opposite of collectivism because honor is the internal weapon used to defeat narcissism.
In a metaphysical sense I am divine, but so are you. You are just as important to the whole as I am. If either of us is removed, society will continue to survive and flourish. The strengths you and I individually possess can support, strengthen, and assist the survival and prosperity of our family, our community, our nation, and our world, but no one individual is irreplaceable, nor are they unnecessary.
Honor is the realization that together we can accomplish far more than either of us could possibly achieve on our own. Honor is the willingness and the desire to work together for the common good through allowing the individual to flourish or fail on their own merits. The narcissist hates honor because it reminds them that they are no better than anyone else and are not entitled to the rewards someone else has gained through their individual success. Honor uplifts the individual while reminding them that alone they are meaningless.
So what is honor? Honor is the conscious and deliberate recognition of my own importance to the world around me as well as the conscious and deliberate recognition of my own place within that world. Honor is the conscious and deliberate willingness to root out and destroy every narcissistic tendency whether it arises on its own or through the self-congratulation that follows every success. Honor is the conscious and deliberate restructuring of self-love, self-congratulation, and self-indulgence into humility, service, and respect. Honor cannot be awarded. It can only be developed. Each of us must recognize our own individual narcissistic tendency and then make a conscious and deliberate decision to replace it with honor.
August 25, 2010
It is now time to start the revolution to restore the Constitution. The political, economic, and academic leadership has declared war on the American people by fiat and by legal gerrymandering.
Instead of limiting the government's ability to establish a national church, the First Amendment now prevents everyone except Muslim organizations backed by the elite from worshiping whenever and wherever they see fit:
The Fourth Amendment now only applies to the economic elite:
"The Government's new right to monitor everyone, everywhere, except the rich!"
An important and noteworthy quote from Chief Judge Alex Kozinski:
"The judges in the majority are guilty of cultural elitism."
It is time to stop the charade. If we do not remove this cancer by force and remove it now, America will never recover. With these two decisions two distinct classes have been created in every legal sense. One class is composed of a wealthy elite that controls the government through bribery and coercion and the backing of academia, the other class is everyone who is not a member of the first. The craftspeople, farmers, factory workers, and small business owners no longer have any voice in government, any control over what their children learn, and no right to protest the decisions of the elite.
It is too late. It does not matter what happens in November. Congress has now become an irrelevant representative of the ignored and unimportant masses. Even if Congress meets and decides to reverse these decisions, the courts will simply annul them. Academia and the courts have come together in collusion with the most radical administration in the history of our country and overthrown the sovereignty of the people. The people are no longer sovereign. The Federal administration working through a vast, parasitic bureaucracy and backed by the full legal power of the bench has taken complete and total control of the political and legal processes designed to empower the people and minimize the central government.
We have become a dystopian hybrid of the failed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the ascendent People's Republic of China. The royal families of Europe and the Middle East now have more control over the American political and legal process than the American people do.
Mark my words and mark them well. America died today. All that is left is dividing up the corpse amongst the vultures.
God help us all!
Update, August 26, 2010:
The Fourth Amendment apparently no longer applies on the streets of American cities. On the same day as the court decision above was published Forbes Online reported, "Full-Body Scan Technology Deployed in Roving Vans".
Does no one in the media understand these connections? Can no one see what is happening right before their very eyes?