April 27, 2011
A pair of .pdf files for your reading pleasure:
Interim Review of ATF's Project Gunrunner
Review of ATF's Project Gunrunner
A couple of web pages over at ATF concerning Project Gunrunner:
ATF Fact Sheet for Project Gunrunner
ATF Recovery Act Summary of Project Gunrunner
David Cordrea at National Gun Rights Examiner and Mike Vanderboegh over at Sipsey Street Irregulars originally broke this story. As time goes on many other people will take credit for it, but they are in fact the two who used their personal contacts within the ATF and other federal agencies to gather the first facts and present the first public articles. They also deserve credit for being the driving force behind Congressional involvement in this huge waste of taxpayer dollars. Even worse, Project Gunrunner became the unseen and unacknowledged source of the majority of illegal weapons transfers from American gun shows and gun dealers to Mexican drug cartels. This illegal traffic, with plans and directives that originated in Eric Holder's office, became the administration's "factual basis" for demanding further restrictions on your unalienable right to keep and bear arms.
Where I come from we call this a "self-fulfilling prophecy". These weapons, provided by your government with your money to Mexican drug cartels, have killed an unknown number of Mexican police, soldiers, and civilians, as well as at least two American Federal agents.
Over the past four years somewhere around 35,000 people have died as a result of the war being fought between the corrupt Mexican federal government and the drug cartels. One of the most brutal and sadistic of these cartels, Los Zetas, was trained by the CIA using your tax dollars. Likewise, Al Qaeda, the terrorists who brought down the Twin Towers and by doing so thrust us into two wars in the Middle East, were also trained and armed with your tax dollars. So a couple days ago, when I read that we are sending $25 million in "non-lethal aid" to the Libyan rebels I cannot help but wonder if we have just made a down payment on the next 9/11.
We armed Saddam Hussein. We armed the Taliban. We trained and armed Al Qaeda. We trained Los Zetas. We put dozens of the world's worst dictators in power. And when all these things turned into world-shattering crises, we passed laws that eroded the Constitution, destroyed your freedoms, and carried us another step down the road to totalitarianism.
I'm thinking that if we just stop arming and training rebels, revolutionaries, thugs, and criminals, we can kill two birds with one stone. Stopping this insanity will help reduce the deficit, balance the budget, strengthen the Constitution, and restore the nation. Bringing home our forces scattered throughout the Middle East and dramatically expanding the domestic energy supply with fewer EPA regulations on mining and drilling (and yes, living with the environmental damage that results) would also allow us to stop sending hundreds of billions of dollars to dozens of potential enemies.
According to the U.S. National Debt Clock, we now have $113.5 trillion in unfunded liabilities! That is ten times the national GDP. We owe ten times the amount of goods and services the entire nation produces every year! I think the time has come to stop providing military assistance to foreign governments with questionable human rights records, to accept some pollution and ruined landscapes in order to transform ourselves from net importer of fossil fuels to a net exporter, to stop funding private research projects that produce billions in corporate profits for pharmaceutical companies, chemical companies, and defense contractors, to stop providing government subsidies to private charities, and to eliminate funding for public artworks not directly related to important historic events.
We can no longer afford to carry the world on our shoulders. It is time to stop feeling responsible for the future of the world. Even money spent on the United Nations has become money dedicated to overriding the Constitution and destroying the freedoms of you and I. Enough is enough!
Why are putting our children and grandchildren in debt in order to fund our own destruction?
April 20, 2011
In a post called "Paranoid" that I wrote on Dec. 11, 2007, I ended an otherwise pleasant meditation on the state of my life with a couple of dark, foreboding paragraphs:
I'm expecting the storm to break hard and fierce any day now. I can feel it hovering on the edge of certainity and I'll be honest, despite the storms I've already weathered, this one feels like it will be the worst one ever. There's a storm coming, alright. I can feel it. It's gonna be bad, it's gonna hit sudden, and it's gonna drive the memory of the past few months right out of mind.
I hope to high heaven I'm just being paranoid, but you know what they say, "just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you."
Here we are less than four years later and the world is beginning to mimic the Biblical Armageddon. Granted, worlds "end" with alarming regularity, and on one level there is no reason to expect this current crisis to be different than any other. Unfortunately, nowadays I am finding it very hard to focus on that level. My mind is shaped by a lifetime of studies in mysticism, history, theology, and writing. Sometimes the real world falls into patterns that follow one area or another, but never in my life have I seen the world so rigidly falling into a synchronicity of events that meets "last days" criteria in all of those areas. We are right now witnessing events that fulfill both Biblical prophecy and standard decline patterns of advanced civilizations as well as moments of broad-reaching mystic "awakenings". Store shelves both virtual and real are overflowing with dire predictions from academics, theologians, mystics, politicians, and ordinary people caught up in a rapidly accelerating global transformation.
The question foremost in the minds of anyone who is paying attention is, "What comes next?"
Not that everyone is paying attention, mind you. A surprising number of people are content to bury their heads in the sand and either ignore the current headlines or pretend they don't understand the implications. It seems that what I feared would be a personal, life-changing storm has instead exploded into a global cataclysm of epic proportions.
This is a frightening and fascinating time to be alive. I wish I could find some way to put it into words, to write a novel or a series that would capture the chaos, the epic power struggles, the individual victories and defeats, but every time I try to come up with characters and events that can distill the chaos down into manageable chunks I wind up losing so very much that the final product is dull, dry, and lacking in passion.
Once upon a time I fancied myself a writer. Now I don't know what I am. Perhaps I am only an observer on life's stage, simultaneously both actor and audience, and unable to carry either role to its full potential.
The storm has arrived, or at least the leading edge. I don't think we have yet seen the full brunt of this monster, and that worries me. Sooner or later, of course, it will pass and leave behind a world so radically different than what came before that future historians will have no problem marking the point at which the transistion took place.
No pithy comments on the daily news today. No stories of games, no movie reviews, and no comments on the latest book I've read. Just the meandering thoughts of a man caught up in world-shattering times that he understands all too well the implications of.
Unless I am very much mistaken (and I hope I am), this is the year the brunt of the storm arrives. Probably starting in mid-May and lasting well into the fall.
God help us all.
April 14, 2011
Anyone who has read this blog for more than a few months knows I am a writer. They also know my online portfolio is here: Akurgal. I don't how many people have visited my portfolio, but those who took the time to look around probably encountered this story: Albino Moon.
I wrote this story several years ago, around 2003 or 2004. There was a writing contest that featured a short prompt, a word limit of 1000 words, and a 24-hour deadline. I don't remember exactly, but the prompt was something along the lines of, "All alone in the long desert night..." From the prompt came four lines of verse, from the four lines of verse came the idea for a band, from the idea for the band came the idea of a Native American lead singer and a short study in race relations in America. I decided to call the band, "Golden Earring" because pirate paraphernalia was everywhere at the time. Pirates, it seems, often had at least one golden earring as a sort of last resort money that they could fall back on when times were rough in order to bribe a jail guard, buy a pint of ale, or whatever.
It took about two years of edits and revisions for the story to finally wind up in it's current form (as linked above). It has done very well at Writing.com and for about a year and half now I've been playing around with the idea of expanding it into a novel. As part of my research to test out the feasibility of this idea, I bought a guitar and started taking lessons. I've always wanted to learn to play a guitar anyway, and now I find myself in a position of having more than enough time to practice and study music. Two birds with one stone: fulfill a dream and write a book. Simple enough.
So I'm talking to my guitar teacher explaining to him why I'm taking lessons. He asks to read the story, so I print out a copy and take it into him. At my next lesson (this would on April 7), he mentions that there is a real band named "Golden Earring" and asks if the story is based on them.
A real band? I've never heard of them.
He's not sure where they're from, but he informs me they had a couple of hits in the eighties and that's why he remembers them. One of their songs, "Radar Love" is a regular feature in sheet music collections of rock songs for guitar players.
Naturally since I don't much care for rock music, I've never looked at sheet music for rock guitarists, which is another reason I've never encountered them before.
I decide I need to look into this band. Well, this past week I've been sick so I didn't have a chance. Today I finally started searching around and this is what I found:
My chest seized up and I very nearly had a heart attack. Seriously. This was the closest I have ever come to dropping over dead from absolute shock. Not only is the band real (and very successful in Europe), they have a song named "Albino Moon", and the album that this song appears on is called, "Millbrook U.S.A.", which is the town where Chris is shot in my story's climax.
I guess that kills that novel idea dead. Their song is nothing like I imagined my fictional song and their band is nothing like I imagined my fictional band, but for international copyright infringement that would not matter in the least. I suppose I can think up a new title for the song, the book, and the band. It's not that hard to do. It's just really disappointing.
Oh, well, back to the drawing board, I guess. I suppose some folks will call it psychic synchronicity. I just call it a novelist's worst nightmare.
And it's too bad, because I really do love that story.
April 11, 2011
Quality is a funny thing. Some people demand quality in all aspects of life, but their idea of quality is defined strictly according to the cost. They assume that a higher price or a more difficult acquisition is a certain indicator of high quality. I knew a man in Tokyo, for example, who owned an impressive collection of African masks. He could go on and on about the history of African masks, their uses in ceremony and war, the names of the Africans who made each of his masks, how much trouble he had gone through to acquire them, and so on. The centerpiece in his collection was a bright red mask with angry eyes, a demonic grin, and genuine kudu horns. He had spent several thousand dollars at auction to acquire the mask and was convinced it was the highest quality African mask he had ever seen. Unfortunately, the only thing "African" about the mask were the kudu horns. The face itself was a more or less traditional Japanese oni. He must have known this. After all, only ten minutes away from his front door was a temple with two very impressive oni statues guarding the front gate.
I never bothered to point this out to him, and more than once in the years since I have wondered if perhaps I should have. After all, there may have been a very good reason why someone would mount a pair of kudu horns on an oni mask and claim that made it "African". In today's world it is even possible that someone from Africa had made the mask and added the horns as an experiment in hybridization. The problem for me was that this man's definition of "quality" supposedly hinged on "historic and cultural authenticity" and yet, the centerpiece of his collection was a complete fabrication! The paradox held too much irony for me to do anything but grin and nod politely every time he told the story of the auction where he had acquired the mask.
Similarly, I recently bought a pair of 1875 Remington replicas made by Uberti, an Italian gunmaker. Originals, such as those in the NRA museum, are worth thousands of dollars each, making them far too valuable to fire. Most people think of the Colt Peacemaker (a.k.a. the "Single Action Army") as the ultimate old west revolver. While the Colt is an excellent firearm and sold in far greater numbers than the Remington, I much prefer the Remington. The heavier weight, the longer barrel, and the size of the grip are all far better suited to my idea of a quality firearm. The Colt's lightweight makes it easier to handle, but in my hands it always feels like a toy. For me, the Remington recovers faster and falls on target far more naturally. I can well understand why men like Frank James carried the Remington. He was the only member of their gang to die of natural causes. No doubt this was at least partly due to the reliability of his preferred sidearm.
Our definition of quality determines almost every aspect of our daily life. A major reason why there is so much difference in lifestyle choices people make is their personal definition of quality. Some people cannot stand to live in anything less than a castle while others are perfectly happy with a tent alongside a wilderness trail somewhere. When a person lives beneath their personal standard of quality it creates jealousy and envy aimed at those who have it better. That individual then must decide what they will do to bridge the gap between their desired lifestyle and their current one. As long as their plan does not involve theft, violence or coercion, they should be free to pursue it to whatever degree of success or failure they have the ability to achieve.
Unfortunately, there are many people who are not content to avoid theft, violence, and coercion. They feel that by birthright, by injustice suffered, by education, by talent, or by some other personal quality they are entitled to a better lifestyle than the one they have and it is the duty of others to provide them that lifestyle. To their mind, it is the collective duty of society to give them their dream. Some of these people are rich, some of them are poor, most of them are somewhere in between. The one thing they all have in common is this inflated and unrealistic sense that life has cheated them and they deserve better than they have. I call these people "elitists" because of their sense of entitlement and "collectivists" because of their expectation that society as a whole owes them a better life. I have spent my entire life in opposition to the arrogance, hypocrisy, and sadism that these people exhibit in their daily lives and I will not apologize for it.
There is no one religion, society, culture, or political system that is reponsible for collectivist thinking. Like all forms of mental illness, it results from a combination of childhood traumas, social isolation, and genetic inclination. Parents who impose huge social expectations on their children produce collectivists as well parents who use their children to fulfill their own lusts and parents who treat children like property. These all have the potential to create children who become adults that believe society owes them a better life. And sometimes it does not matter how much time and effort the parent devotes to their child. In some cases genetics or a series of bad choices will lead the child down the same road with the same end result: an inflated sense of entitlement and a willingness (or even an eagerness!) to inflict great pain in order to achieve their goals.
We cannot engineer a perfect society. The main reason is that in order to do so we must make a basic, collectivist assumption that all people are born with a blank slate that upbringing writes a personality onto. Anyone who has more than one child and has spent time involved in their children's lives will immediately assert that the core differences in the personalities of each child are there right from the beginning. For example, one might sleep through the night right from the beginning while the other never sleeps through the night, not even as an adolescent. Traumatic experiences, the one thing an engineered society might possibly manage to avoid, can destroy a child genetically inclined to warmth and social involvement, but so can excessive praise, overprotectiveness, and avoidance of trauma. There is simply no way to determine at birth what a given child needs in order to become a balanced, productive, compassionate adult and that is why we cannot engineer, indocrinate, or even educate our way to a utopian society.
Lots of people keep trying, however. It can even be argued that by denying their ability to succeed and by condemning their efforts I am participating in the engineering process. If only it were that simple.
Although Hammurabi often gets credit for the first codified legal system in human history, fragments from Ur, Uruk, and even Eridu imply that his is not the first legal system, merely the best preserved of the early Sumerian ones. Bits of ceramics, bronze utensils, and shattered stones from the Ganges and Yellow River valleys clearly indicate a fixed social structure with at least two economic classes which would imply the need for a codified legal system of some kind in order to maintain stability, but no early examples have been found. In current historical thinking the Sumerian city-states are dated between 500 and 1500 years older than the other two, but nothing is ever really final and there is no telling what new discoveries will be made in the future. The Egyptians with their pyramids and extensive hieroglyphics are actually relative latecomers in the scheme of things, but they encountered the same problems as the other three: starvation, greed, violent individuals, and corruption.
Marx's great scheme of an evolving society does not exist in the archeaological record. There is no physical evidence for it whatsoever. There is no grand march from barbarism to civilization to some future utopia where everyone is happy, healthy, well fed, and living in luxury. There is, however, a constant conflict between the individualists who strive to improve their own lives and the lives of their family against the collectivists who demand the more successful of the individualists share their resources with everyone else. Into this mix are thrown the ambitious and the reckless who seek the wealth of the most successful, the influence of the political leadership, and some way to justify extracting everyone else's wealth not for the common good, but for their own.
Human history is not a record of the oppressed and the oppressors. Our history is a record of dynamic, sometimes violent shifts of resource control between individuals, groups of individuals, or even just back and forth between humanity and the natural processes of growth and decay. Every historic transistion of resources is also a transition of power. I am convinced that the reason our current world is in such turmoil is because we are poised on the brink of yet another mass transition of power and resources. It is even possible that the transition has already started. The end result of this transition is impossible to predict. It always is. The only certainty is that it will occur, some will profit by it, some will lose everything, and some will just barely survive.
Future historians will look back on a period of time that began in 1972 with the slaughter of Israeli Olympic athletes by Palestinian terrorists as the beginning of this period of transition. Others will point to the creation of the Nation of Israel as the starting point. Some will place it further back in history while some will point to April 19, 1995 or September 11, 2001. All of them will remark on the violence, the unrelenting demonization of one group by another, and the ongoing pattern of self-destruction versus expansion that has been the mainstay of human society since the introduction of the steam engine. Some will look to assign blame while others will wonder how society could have gone so completley and totally insane in such a short period of time.
I guess, in the end, my real point is this: the next eighteen months will be hair-raising. A lot of people are going to die for a lot of different reasons. National boundaries will be redrawn, or perhaps even eliminated entirely. Your individual survival and the survival of your family will depend on luck, preparation, and perseverance, but in many cases even that will not be enough. I don't know what the world will look like eighteen months from now. The one thing that history clearly teaches me is that it will be nothing like it is today.
Good luck and God bless! We're all going to need it.
April 04, 2011
MediaIte: Hardball|Koran Burning is Worse than Burning a Bible
I really don't have time for this today, but the insanity that is passing for "coverage" in our modern media has got to stop. Some crazy pastor in Florida burns a Qur'an, a bunch of insane criminals in Afghanistan respond by killing U.N. "Peacekeepers", and suddenly the entire western world is agonizing over who is at fault and what could have been done to prevent it.
No one is at fault and nothing could have been done to prevent it!
The time for guilt and fear has ended. There is no reality behind either of those emotional responses to this very real, very insane scenario. No one alive can rationally analyze the actions of violent criminals without invoking their own personal prejudices and presumptions. To do so would be a complete violation of human nature. That is why casting blame on one party or another is not the answer. Everyone involved shares in the blame when insanity is allowed to run rampant and inherent prejudices produce violent acting out. Trying to deflect blame from one side by assigning it to the other does not resolve the problem when two insane groups decide to go to war. Mediation, diplomacy, and negotiation only become feasible strategies when both parties are objective and inclined to look for common ground. Before that point can be reached, the violence must be stopped cold. Sadly, sometimes the only way to stop a violent crowd is to start shooting. And yes, I realize that opening fire on an inflamed mob can start a cycle of violence with widespread repercussions. Well, if history teaches us anything at all it teaches us that sometimes people will not see reason until they have burned their own village to the ground right along with every village around them.
We stand, here and now, on the cusp of a world war. Utopia-seeking political radicals have subverted the democratic process in every modern western country and gained control of both western politics and western economics. In the Middle East, utopia-seeking religious radicals have accomplished the same thing. The first step in unwinding this mess is to remove the radicals from power and since they are disinclined to leave, the application of superior firepower might be necessary to dislodge them.
The lunatics are now in charge of this asylum and it is beginning to appear there is no turning back. Maybe you believe in a divine armageddon followed by a theocratic utopia, maybe you believe in a global insurrection followed by a secular utopia. Either way, at this point in time it might be too late to stop the insanity of those who not only believe in one of these mythical utopias they desire it far and above anything our modern world has to offer.
If the modern media stops choosing sides, if Marxists disguised as "big-hearted liberals" can be removed from power in the west, if the Arab and Persian nations will use the recent turmoil to institute societies based on genuine freedom of thought, then there is a very slim window of opportunity to derail this train before it plummets headlong into a ravine.
I am not optimistic.
April 03, 2011
The mystery starts here:
Cerebus Capital Management
Soros Fund Management Buys Citigroup and Monsanto
Red flags really started going off when I read this:
AWB Snares Gavilon
Gavilon to Buy Union Elevator
George Soros now controls two industries on two continents: grain and guns. This could be very good but it is probably very bad. In times of food shortage people tend to get violent. Now that George Soros controls both grain and guns, he can control how much of each reaches the market. While it is true that he still has competitors, he now controls enough of both industries to swing the entire world back and forth between food shortages and wars fought over food for as long as he desires.
The only way to counter his ability to increase the amount of chaos in the world is for individuals and families to do everything in their power to become self-sufficient. There is a book out that I would highly recommend everyone read: The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!. This book show quite clearly how anyone living in a city neighborhood can use their small house lot to take themselves dramatically closer to food independence then most people realize. It does not take much land to feed a single family. It just takes sweat, careful planning, and determination. Simple things like substituting fruit trees for decorative trees and berry bushes for decorative shrubbery can make a huge difference in your monthly grocery bill. It also has the benefit of enabling you to know exactly where your food comes from and how it was grown.
The world is being manipulated into a time of great chaos and George Soros is one (and only one!) of the puppetmasters pulling the strings. The more independent you can make yourself, the less impact that chaos will have on you. Grow your own food, keep a good stock of firearms and ammo (and learn how to use them effectively!), and add some silver or gold to your personal wealth. It doesn't have to be much. If the chaos is less severe than I am expecting, you will have gained a lower grocery bill and some financial security while the only thing you will have lost is time spent watching your favorite television programs. If the chaos gets totally out of hand, you will be in a position to help your friends and family weather the storm.
When powerful men put themselves in a position to profit more from chaos than they can from times of peace then the rest of us need to stand up and take notice because sooner or later those men will do everything in their power to bring chaos and maximize their profits.
April 02, 2011
There are a lot of numbers being thrown around, sure proof that no one really knows how much it will cost to rebuild Japan.
CNN: Tsunami Damage Could Total $300 billion
Business Spectator: Tepco Says Current Funding is not enough
Sydney Morning Herald: World Bank Says Rebuilding Japan May Take 5 Years
Mainichi Daily News: Government to Shoulder Cost of Rebuilding
Asahi.com: Tax Hikes, Bond Issue Eyed for Reconstruction
I really don't know what to say...