January 30, 2011

There is no perfection this side of heaven

Egypt is in turmoil. There have now been six days of street protests. The Egyptian army has rolled out into the streets and the people have welcomed them, preferring them to the national police. In the background, all over the United States, liberal progressives are calling for the same riots in American cities. Anyone like me who supports our government and believes the United States is still the greatest nation on earth is ridiculed. There are far too many Americans like Joe Rogan who honestly believe that corporate America is in complete control of the country. Their solution is civil war.

As I have pointed out before, I am not a fan of George Bush, either senior or junior. That does not change the simple fact that so far, Barack Obama is even worse. And now he is using the world's fixation with Egypt's street protests to push his internet kill switch.

Our world is now home to almost 7 billion people. Seven billion individuals each with their own priorities, their own dreams, their own strengths, and their own weaknesses. There are more people on earth right this minute then the total for the entire history of humanity prior to World War Two, almost twice as many in fact. I am amazed and horrified that in this brief flash of the present so many of those billions are eager to ignore the history of the past century and demand the imposition of a global Marxist dictatorship. I don't understand how anyone can believe that the incredible success of capitalism and free markets is somehow evidence for the failure of free markets and free people. There are more people living in comfort right this minute, and more people living in poverty, then in the entire pre-WWII history of humanity. Seven billion people! That would be impossible under a Marxist world government.

Are there problems? Of course there are! Halliburton, Blackwater, and countless other companies made a fortune off the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They cleared billions in profit. Money that paid wages on four continents and fed countless families in third world countries through charitable donations made voluntarily by the employees of those companies. It is impossible to calculate how much good has been accomplished around the world from profits generated by those wars.

Now, don't get me wrong. The good that has come from those corporate profits does not justify those wars. Not in the least. It simply demonstrates that anyone who attacks corporate war profits is missing the much larger picture of where those profits ultimately wind up. True, a few executives made a few million each and that does seem excessive. Still, how many janitors working for those very same companies sent a portion of their minimum wage paycheck to hospitals, orphanages, and schools in impoverished communities in Africa, Asia, and South America? Hundreds? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Nobody knows.

I have great respect and admiration for those Egyptians who are taking up whatever weapons they have to patrol their neighborhoods and fight off looters. I have great respect for individual Egyptians who gathered without leadership to demand Pres. Mubarak's resignation. Individuals acting on principle will always earn my respect and admiration. That is, after all, the one thing that separates us from the animals. Our ability to act on principle rather than instinct is what makes us human. So when someone like Joe Rogan produces slick videos calling me an idiot because I believe in the United States of America and everything she stands for it makes my stomach boil and I am angered to the point of violence. Fortunately, I am human and I have the example of Egyptian neighbors banding together for self-defense to remind me just what that means. It means I let Joe and his allies off with some vitriol and profanity rather than the bullet in the brain they so richly deserve.

Liberal progressives everywhere should thank those brave Egyptians banding together to defend their homes and families. Seeing them reminds me that no matter how delusional the Joe Rogans of the world are, they are entitled to their opinions. However, I will never, ever agree with those opinions. If they dare take to the streets in America I will be among the first to grab my guns and fall out in defense of the police.

Oh, and as a footnote, Ben Wedeman is hands down the best western journalist in the Middle East. Whatever CNN is paying him it is not nearly enough.

January 21, 2011

Being Human

Sunday morning my father will drive me to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. I will refuse the backscatter scanner, so someone will grope and probe my body through my clothing looking for anything that doesn't belong while I will glow beet red in embarrassment. Then it will be over and I will board a flight to Minneapolis. Hopefully I won't have to leave the secure area to reach the gate where I will take a plane to Japan. Once in awhile I do. This is the first time for me to transfer at Minneapolis so I don't know how that airport is arranged. It might be one of those with separate security for domestic and international, in which case, I will get groped again when I enter the international wing.

My two carry guns, a Ruger P944 in .40 S&W and a Ruger LCP in .380, will be unloaded and locked up in my safe at home. Not only do airlines dislike them, Japan is a liberal progressive paradise where common folk like me are forbidden to own firearms. Last time I checked, there were about 1200 rifles still in civilian hands. Considered "professional hunters", these are men who are on contract with the national government for bears and other wildlife that occasionally wander into mountain villages. Sometimes the wildlife ignores bait, dodges dart guns, and must be taken out by one of these hunters. As each hunter dies, his rifle must be turned into the national police who will destroy it and never issue another permit. The goal is for their citizens to never again own firearms, not even for sporting purposes. The laws are so draconian that the Japanese Olympic team must do all of their firearms training in Guam and arrange for their target rifles and handguns to be shipped from Guam to wherever they compete. The national Olympic team is forbidden to own or manage an armory, any firearms, or even a practice range.

I will spend about a month in Japan. My wife and I will spend some time together after she gets off work, my two sons will see me for dinner on occasion, and I'll spend my days entertaining our cat in a three-bedroom apartment that is smaller than my living room in Ohio. The bedroom where my wife and I will sleep is smaller than either of my bathrooms or even my bedroom closet. With a little luck, a little love, and a whole lot of faith, I will go neither stir-crazy nor claustrophic. I assume I'll be back in Ohio sometime in March. After all, I have to pay the electric bill, the gas bill, and the phone bill, even if I am not here using them. I can pay them online, and I will make every effort to do so while I am there, but somehow it is not the same.

The thing I will miss the most while I am in Japan is the freedom to involve myself in political and economic discussions with everyone from the gas station attendent to the grocery store clerk to my local bartender. In Japan I am not a citizen and my opinions are completely unwanted. It's reasonable, naturally, but it's still a major thorn in my side and one of the reasons I can never be comfortable in the land of the rising sun. I am always and forever, outside of society. Even if I did get a Japanese passport, I would still be considered an outsider. People might call me friend or even ally, but I would never be considered the same as a native-born Japanese. Likewise, anyone who saw me on the street would assume I was a foreigner. Assuming I did go to the trouble to be naturalized, if for some reason a police officer stopped me on the street to ask me a question and demanded my identification, telling him I was Japanese would earn me a stare of incredularity and a trip to the police station while they confirmed it. It's not really "prejudice" in the sense of racial hatred or mistrust. It's more simple than that. No matter what I do or who I know, I can never be anything more than a local oddity. I'm never quite human.

Blacks and Hispanics in the United States will from time to time encounter very ignorant and arrogant people who call them names, deny them service, or just look at them funny. Japan also has ignorant and arrogant people who treat non-Japanese similarly. But by the same token, the Black or Hispanic (or Persian, or Arabian, or Asian, etc.) American is always assumed to be American. Even if you are Hispanic, unless you are adorned with gang tattoos or marching in a protest, noboby assumes you are an illegal immigrant. Every time I hear a Black or Hispanic American complain about "passive racism", I cringe inside. I'm sorry, but no one living in the United States suffers from genuine "passive racism". Not any more, and most certainly not like I experience when I am in Japan. It affects every aspect of daily life, whether it reveals itself as rudeness, greater politeness, disbelief when I speak Japanese, a sign on a local shop, or the nervous glance of a nurse when I walk into a local medical clinic. Ordinary people never quite accept me as being human. At best, I am "a nice guy for a foreigner". I will be in Japan for a month, possibly a month and a half. While I am there at least every other day someone, somewhere will remark on how well I use chopsticks. They don't mean any harm by it. They just cannot believe that a foreigner could master a simple daily skill that befuddles so many of the Japanese people themselves, especially Japanese men.

In Japan I can't own firearms, I am never quite accepted as human, and everything in the country is too small for me. I don't belong and that message gets hammered home every single day. My wife and children don't understand why I am more than happy to live by myself in this quiet house in the middle of corn country. I've tried explaining it to them, but it just never quite registers. In the United States, I'm human. Some people might call me a redneck and others will lambast my Christianity while a few people will call me lazy or useless at the drop of a hat, but no one will treat me as something less than human.

January 09, 2011

Rep. Giffords, her assassin, and the media

I learned of this tragedy at about eight o'clock last night. I spent yesterday researching ion propulsion drives, finally had a meal at a local restaurant at three in the afternoon, bought a couple Morgan dollars at my local coin shop, and dropped by my favorite local pub to silence the clamoring inside my head with some single malt neuron toxins. Just as I was finally achieving that pleasant nirvana of semi-comatose, somebody mentioned the events in Tucson. I dug out my Android, sent the AI wandering cyberspace, and it came back with several hundred angry progressive bloggers denouncing a "Tea Party" terrorist named "Jerod". After a slurred scolding, the AI headed back out again into the electronic wilderness and produced an equal number of news reports, most of them mere repeats of an AP wire release that went out sometime around noon.

My prayers are with Rep. Giffords as she heals, with the grieving families of the slain, and with the dozen wounded in the massacre. Nineteen victims of a single, insane gunman is a massacre. Although I am horrified and repulsed by his actions, at least he hit what he was aiming at. To my mind (in the clear, sober light of the next day), there is no justification for taking a Glock, attacking a politician you disagree with, and then turning your ire on the surrounding crowd. None whatsoever. I wish his aim had been more in line with his sanity and the only wounds were minor scratches and abrasions from flying chips of masonry.

This was an act of a delusional, narcissistic madman who never should have been allowed near a gun. Obviously he lied on the standard ATF Form 4473 about his mental state and his history of treatment. Criminals lie, break the law, purchase guns illegally, and then use them against innocents. Adding more laws to the books will not change the simple reality that criminals ignore the law. I cannot help but wonder why, in Arizona of all places, there were not armed citizens in the crowd who could have taken him down the moment he fired the first shot. Rep. Giffords would still be hospitalized, but the other victims would be alive and uninjured. Where were the armed citizens who could have stepped up and stopped this madness the moment it began? This massacre is a clear example of why we need more law-abiding citizens who own, maintain, train with, and carry a personal firearm. They are our first line of defense against lunatics like this "Jerod" fellow.

In closing, according to material gathered at NewsBuzz.org this fellow was a died-in-the-wool collectivist intent on killing a moderate democrat who did not support his radical beliefs and agenda. He was not a Tea Party patriot inspired by Sarah Palin. There is at this time zero evidence to support the irrational and immediate outburst by so many bloggers, commentators, and "experts" that this fellow was inspired by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. All of the real-world evidence shows exactly the opposite. Politicizing this tragedy is treasonous and far more repulsive than the act itself, which is so horrifying all on its own that I cannot understand why so many people skipped right over grief and into condemnation.

Hey all you crazy progressives, one of your people took out a moderate whose primary aim in life was to form a bridge between your extremist views and mine, so stop blaming my people every time one of your lunatics pulls a trigger or sets off a bomb.

January 07, 2011

I guess I'll keep it

I've been trying to come up with a more appropriate theme for where I see my life headed over the next eighteen months. I mulled over mathematics themes, scientific themes, financial themes, writing themes, and artistic themes, but in the end I came up blank. I'm not just talking about color and design. Around mid-November I began to feel my "meandering mind" idea was no longer valid but I've been unable to come up with a title and photography relevant to where I see myself focusing on over the next year and a half. For starters, I will probably never write another game post. Gaming does not have the relevance it once had for me and I've pretty much settled on City of Heroes and nothing else. I still get regular beta invites, but nothing coming down the pike offers the same level of creativity and the same ease of avoiding PvP. For some reason as game sales plummet and a greater percentage of "gamers" leave off gaming entirely for Second Life or any of the hundreds of similar user-generated virtual worlds, game designers become more and more convinced that the reason they are failing is because they don't offer dynamic, brutal, uncontrolled PvP combat. You'd think they'd realize that if social environments are stealing their customers then what users are looking for is better social tools and less competition, but like buggy whip makers of a century ago they just cannot accept the facts unfolding around them.

So where do I see myself focusing in the coming years? Firearms, consitutionalism, limited government, more historical studies, and a greater emphasis on writing. I must finish a novel this year and I'd prefer to finish several. Working within the existing political system to prevent my homeland from collapsing into anarchy or launching into tyranny is essential to insuring that when I do finish there will still be a civilized society interested in reading. Personal firearms are the key component in achieving a higher level of civilization while at the same time reducing the size, scope, and expense of government. On one level, this year and next will be all about "personal empowerment", but that phrase has been so twisted and perverted by modern spin doctors that it is now essentially meaningless.

I guess, to a great extent, that is why I wound up keeping this blog despite two months of searching around for a better theme. The English language has been so corrupted by commercial advertising that all of our most powerful metaphors are now empty shells that anyone, anywhere can dump any meaning they like into and then parade it around as new and exciting. Even the word "modern", simple concept that it is, now creates images of chairs, clothes, shoes, and glass-fronted skyscrapers in the minds of most people rather than greater simplicity through innovation. "Modern" no longer applies to science and technology in any meaningful way, nor does it apply to ideas and philosophy. It has no cultural value outside of consumer-driven crass materialism. Such a waste, really. It is shameful how such a powerful concept has been reduced to such idiocy.

So, there we have it. I guess I'll be keeping this blog after all. I've changed the graphic theme, and I'm going to have to get a better portrait, but beyond that, only time will tell. Maybe it's better this way. There are over three hundred and fifty posts prior to this one. That's a lot of history for a casual blogger like myself. Some folks might consider it extra baggage. Most of those folks have spent their entire lives trying to hide the baggage they carry around every single day. I like my baggage. It reminds me of all the lessons I've learned the hard way, lessons that are far too important to forget.