Friday, October 31, 2008

Special Whorehouse (parable)

This whorehouse is special for many reasons, but the most striking consistency is its never-ending stream of loyal visitors. They like to be called Taxpayers. Taxpayers are a special group of people and they are also the best kind of customers for this particular whorehouse. When Taxpayers come to the whorehouse, they work themselves into a frenzy over the establishment’s fine tricksters, and it makes sense, because these are the finest tricksters money can buy. The Taxpayers are characterized by a constant struggle to position themselves on top. In fact, they actually prefer to be on top, so all of the tricksters at the whorehouse just lay around on the furniture to maximize the pleasure for the Taxpayers. Its what they call a ‘win-win’ situation. Taxpayers also like doing all the work, sweating and grunting and pumping themselves to ecstasy. Taxpayers never complain about waiting their turn, and they make certain to pay their fair share everyday, even when they don’t get a chance to swing by the whorehouse because of other distractions. Taxpayers never complain about catching diseases or getting sick from the food, water, and activities available at the whorehouse. Like I said, they are a loyal group and defend their whorehouse access rights to the death. Once in a while, you will get a lazy Taxpayer who wants the trickster to be on top or who refuses to pay. In this case, the whorehouse will graciously give them service and then politely ask them to leave and will not allow them to return without demonstrating a serious change of attitude.
The proprietors of the whorehouse are special too. These people have a different lifestyle from the Taxpayers, but are none-the-less committed to the non-stop operation of the whorehouse. They like to be called the Owners. The Owners have fiercely loyal protégés who keep the tricksters looking nice, the premises clean, the booze flowing, the biscuits fresh and the whorehouse safe from harm. The Owners have full access to the whorehouse and take advantage of that access to their great pleasure. If an owner takes a rare interest in one of the Taxpayers, it is seen as a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Taxpayer to become a trickster. Much to the Taxpayers’ collective confusion, the Owners don’t typically waste much of their time at the whorehouse, though, and tend to spend their well-deserved profits on other endeavors. Many favorite pastimes of the Owners involve high-stakes death-match style competitive sports. There are many versions of these events, too numerous to go into here in a story about the whorehouse. The other curious addiction of the Owners is the accumulation of things and pets. This particular pursuit is (amazingly) of widespread fascination to the Taxpayers and provides endless distraction to both groups.
This special whorehouse also enjoys rigorous inherent protections that stem from its widespread acceptance in society. It has been proven that even when an entity poses a legitimate threat to the whorehouse, it only serves to remind society how much the whorehouse needs to be protected. There are many in the culture who have been disenfranchised by the whorehouse. Some of these will continue try to threaten the whorehouse, but such threats are just distractions. Distractions of enormous magnitude can, temporarily, shut down the whorehouse and are often referred to as ‘Once-In-A-Lifetime” events. As such, they are easily recognized.
The only true threat to the whorehouse and its fine tricksters is the threat from lack of interest, which is, understandably, not possible.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Liberty & Security

Both of these abstract concepts are important and emotional. We spend a good deal of time debating the strength of different public policies, using the ideas of liberty & security as 'yardsticks' to measure the projected success of those policies. These concepts are highly subjective, though, and i suggest we beware of anyone who tries to use either security or liberty (or both) to promote an opinion. We can all agree that a successful society has a 'healthy' balance between the two concepts, yet we can never agree what that balance ought to be. Politicians use this fact against us to gain votes, sway the public discussion, and increase their control of the cultural reins. Unfortunatley, so does the media. We have to stop believing anyone who tends to bend every discussion towards these highly emotional and subjective concepts. It is rare to find anyone who completely agrees with you on both subjects, so it follows that it is more important that we preserve the right to disagree on these concepts.
America has always been a place where disagreement is allowed and respected and I hope this will continue to be the case. If you have an opinion on something, from gay marriage to the color of my drapes, please do not invoke freedom or 'the enemy' in expressing it. Let me give you a simple fable which I hope will help illustrate my thinking:

There are two cows walking together in a pasture, Liberty and Security. Upon reaching the fence line, they notice that there is an opening between two posts. Liberty continues to wander on, crossing the fence line, and Security turns back towards the rest of the herd. The next morning, the rancher rounds up all the cows for transport and notices Liberty is missing. With the folks down at the slaughterhouse waiting for his delivery, the rancher decides to finish loading up Security and the herd. The ride to the slaughterhouse is always a rough one, and this one is especially tough because on the way, they pass Liberty's mutilated carcass on the trail.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

American Prisoners

Estimate: 2,299,116 prisoners were held in federal or state prisons or in local jails as of June 30, 2007.
Estimate: US population as of Dec 2007 is 301,621,157 residents.

This means that about 1 out of every 132 residents in the US last year resided in a prison or a jail. The average prison sentence is about 3 years. If you live in anything other than a rural area, you pass many residents on your way to work every morning. At least one of the people you pass everyday has likely been incarcerated. These numbers seem severe, but what does this really mean? It means that there is a concentrated effort in our society to capture, and hold people in detention facilities. It also means that this capture program is successful. Extremely successful.

I refuse to believe that one out of every 132 US residents deserves to lose their freedom. There is no way to claim we have a responsible society if that many people need to be removed in order for it to function. This is a symptom of a greater, complicated cultural defect in our society. We want 'bad' people to disappear. This makes us feel safe. The out-of-sight/out-of-mind tactics might work when dealing with appetite control, but it is wholly unrealistic with regards to criminal justice. This is the equivalent of the 'time-out' strategy of child punishment. At some point we are going to have to admit to ourselves that incarcerated people don't actually disappear. When we don't or won't have a conversation about obvious problems in our society, we foster the culture of denial. This massive, concentrated effort to capture and hold citizens is, unfortunately, part and parcel of our culture of denial.
What we are tacitly approving is the idea that freedom from capture & detention is a priviledge to be earned and protected through administration of the criminal justice codes. This is a disturbing reality in our culture. The criminal justice codes are contained in multiple books. In fact, we have multiple books for each jusridiction. A person lives under the laws written in the federal criminal justice codes, under more laws written in their state's criminal justice codes, and at the very least under more laws written in their county's criminal justice codes. Most of the population also lives under a group of laws that is written in their city or town's criminal justice codes. It would be difficult (likely impossible) to read all the laws that govern a person's life in the span of a single lifetime.
It is assanine to assume that any of us knows all the laws we are beholden to. These unknown (and often changing) laws, however, can be used against us to take away the most precious thing any individual has - their freedom. I have been asking myself how this system exists for a long time and I still have no answer. I have heard many arguments for pieces and parts of this system, but taken as a whole the system is fatally flawed. We write millions of pages of statutes, then we expect each person to live explicitly by each and every word of each and every page of each and every statute. This is an impossible and untenable expectation to live up to!

Criminal justice & statute reform has to become part of our national conversation. We cannot continue this absurd practice of capturing and holding each other in detention facilities without cause. It is truly disgraceful, and, more importantly, is a symptom of our culture of denial that we have to come to grips with. I am sure there are more fertile minds out there who have decades of experience with criminals who have great ideas about how to reform the system. I hope to see them coming forward in the very near future to help us shape the conversation and enact real reform.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Camp Grenada Remake

Hello Mother
Hello Father,
Greetings from the
Oval Office.
I'm the chief here,
'tis the season,
I eavesdropped on your cell phone calls...
But its not treason!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Learned A New Word Today

: government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed

Monday, October 13, 2008

Slaves & Zombies

I am starting to perceive a simple division between the majority of American voters and there are two main factions. For purposes of this thought, I will call them the zombies and the slaves. Neither group is in any especially good position, and they are both easily manipulated by fear and greed. The factions, en masse, have the power to do many things, but they are pitifully unaware of this. The main 2 things that represent common ground between the two factions are the ease of manipulation and the suffering they are party to. The main distinctions between zombies & slaves shows up in their philosophy or world view:

The zombies believe that America is moving in the direction of the all powerful military, economic, & democratic global reorganization. Zombies believe this movement is the greatest single force for liberation and freedom in the history of the human race. The zombies want to believe that our country exists as it is portrayed in the movies. Zombies tend to believe anything that they repeatedly hear and this is the message we have been getting for about 20 years from our culture. The zombies typically fantasize about the future and are therefore intrinsically in denial of the current situation. This is a rampant symptom of the post modern malaise. Zombies want to be omnipotent, fearless, & they always win.

The slaves believe that America is misusing its vast wealth and military power chasing rainbows. Slave mentality wants to know why they are being asked to save the world when they see what they they think is suffering here at home. Slaves are always looking for dual meanings in everything that the government does and often believe in conspiracy theories. Slaves have no choice but to make the distinction between hollywood and reality, because they don't know anyone who lives one of the hollywood lifestyles. Slaves recognize their own suffering, project it out onto all situations (magnifying it) and it makes them bitter. This, too, is a rampant symptom of the post modern malaise. Slaves spend a lot of time gambling, trying to game the system, and hoping for a better future. Slaves want something for nothing, to be treated like a god, & they always end up with their hands dirty.

I'm not making a judgment as to which faction is better, just trying to analyze the two so I can try to see through the deceptions of those who might want to take advantage of us. When a politician says, "I'm gonna help you by helping America," they are playing to the zombie crowd. When a politician says, "I'm gonna help America by helping you," they are playing to the slave crowd. Its a dicey time right now, because both factions are pissed (and rightfully so). There is a slim chance that the factions could unite and that makes this particular campaign cycle even more exciting!

The main point I want to make is that you might fall into one of these categories or you might at least lean towards one of these factions (I certainly do). If you are a slave, then you need to make a concentrated effort to ask yourself - am I making decisions based on my sardonic bitterness, or on an attempt at an objective evaluation of the situation? If you are a zombie, then you need to make a concentrated effort to ask yourself - am I making decisions based on my fantastical vision of the future, or on an attempt at an objective evaluation of the situation?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Different Perspective

i like the idea of combining environmental factors and predisposition into one theory - very smooth. I have always thought of those ideas as polar opposites and i can see how, in a larger context, they could be bedmates.
There is some contradiction in wanting to then think about how could we positively affect the outcome of our civilization. I don't think that it would be possible for us to affect the future under this model because the premise is already set that we are predisposed to do our thing within this giant biological machine.
Mentally, i definitely have trouble with the whole concept because i believe in consequences. Based on my life experience and observing others i have seen positive and negative consequences that are undeniable to me. Within this model we are talking about, there is no morality, no positive and negative, no consequences, no rewards, etc. I really believe that human beings are bound by their actions. I also believe (again based on my experience) that the reactions of others and the condition of our environment are at the very least indirectly related to what we do.
The other interesting thing that occurs to me, just suspending my beliefs for a second and thinking about the possibilities, is that there must then be a purpose for our civilization. This is an intriguing idea that we could be part of a whole that is creating something wonderful and we have no concept of it because of our perspective. Similar to the life of a butterfly where they flit around from flower to flower sucking up the sweet sugary juices (all the while pollenating the plant and making sure the life cycle of the flower is intact). Many butterfly's life cycles are less than a month, so because of their perspective, they would never be able to understand the plant's cycle of the flower closing up, the seed pod forming and dropping to the ground, the seasons changing, the seed waking up and germinating, the oxygen that the plant gives to the atmosphere, etc. The individual butterfly has no idea !
Ok, so back to the point that we must have some purpose. Figuring out that purpose would then be a goal of our race and i definitely agree that we have to have some education and common communication methods in order to keep the information moving on to the next generation, since we have to assume that it might take thousands of years for our purpose to actually come to fruition. Also, i am a believer that education and communication don't get very far without decent nutrition, shelter, and at least rudimentary creature comforts (in that order).
There is another point that i also believe in, which is that we need to be able to provide a wide majority of people with this basic living standard in order to accelerate our civilization and our race.

Comparing Cost of Obama & McCain Major Policies

1) Tax Changes:
According to: Mcain's Tax changes cost us: $4.5 Trillion over ten years.
Obama's Tax Changes cost the US Budget: $3.3 Trillion over ten years.

Whoa. Before i go on to the next item, i need to make some commentary here. Both tax changes put the US budget FURTHER into debt by TRILLIONS of dollars. These are the choices that the two party system offers me?

2) Healthcare Plans:
According to:
McCain's Healthcare Plan costs $1.3 Trillion over 10 years.
Obama's Healthcare Plan costs $1.6 Trillion over 10 years

3) Education Plans:
According to:
McCain's Education Plan Costs: Nothing. No Change in actual Spending.
Obama's Plan Costs $18 Billion dollars a year or a total of $180 Billion over ten years

4) Energy Policy:
According to:
McCain's Energy Policy costs at least $2 Billion a year or a total of $20 Billion over 10 years (plus a one time 300 million dollar reward for a high efficiency hybrid vehicle)
According to:
Obama's Energy Policy costs $150 Billion over 10 years

I do need to comment here that the McCain Energy Policy is somewhat vague. It is not outlined in specifics and it is tough to really get a comprehensive number to go with his proposals.

5) Iraq / Afghanistan Strategy: No way to figure this out from quick internet searches. I guess we would just have to assume this is not possible to compare the two. I also looked for defense spending and there are all kinds discussions. McCain has actually been successful in cutting pork out of defense budgets of the past. Obama claims he will cut defense spending. The conventional wisdom is that neither candidate will be able to cut the DOD budget.

Total Comparison:
McCain's Policies represent approximately (4.5t + 1.3t + 0 + 2.3b) = 5.8023 Trillion in added cost over ten years
Obama's Policies represent approximately (3.3t + 1.6t + 180b + 150b) = 5.23 Trillion in added cost over ten years.

They both offer vague ideas about how they would pay for some of these policies, but the truth is, there is no way to actually accomplish this kind of spending. No way. We have a shrinking credit rating with the world and a slowing GDP (almost stopped). This kind of pandering is what we have come to expect from the broken two party system.As a comparison, realize that the US budget will be 400 billion dollars in the red (a record deficit by the way) whenever the next POTS takes office.

Also, for comparison, according to:
The DOD budget is around $500 billion for year 2009 or $5 trillion over 10 years...

Also, for comparison, according to:
The Iraq war costs $340 million per day or $1.2 trillion over 10 years...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

G W Bush Legacy - Top Ten List

*Failed foreign policy resulting in the weakening of US military & diplomatic role in the world.
*Failed economic policy resulting in the weakening of US commerce in the world.
*Failed education policy resulting in the weakening of US people's ability to compete in the world.
*Failed disaster response policy resulting in weakened US ability to assist the suffering at home & abroad.
*Failed housing & taxation policies resulting in a weakened US middle class.
*Failed immigration policy resulting in strengthening the division between cultures inside the US.
*Failed budgetary control policy resulting in the worst budget deficit in the history of the world.
*Failed national security/intelligence policies resulting in unconscionable abuse of US Citizen's rights.
*Failed interrogation policies resulting in devastating human rights abuses by agents of the US.
*Failed communication policies resulting in loss of US credibility in the world and loss of credibility amongst the American people with regards to the Office of the President.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Time Machine

This just in - insane physicist perfects time machine. Says he plans to return to the good ole days. Claims he just came back from 1959 to get a few supplies before returning to that nicer time.

When asked if he was going to venture into the future, he replied,"the future? Are you kidding? Those poor bastards are screwed..."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How are we Living?

I’ve been thinking lately about how people are living and what they are bounded by in these recent times. I am basing this all on my own experience, of course, and I would like to bounce some ideas around. I believe that there is a common discontent with modern life and a distrust of each other and the ruling body, etc. Obviously, most of this is normal human psyche, and I have been trying to get my mind around it’s causes / effects in our present times.
The issue, from my perspective, is that most of us are smart enough to know that there is an opportunity in American society to become anything you want to be. We also know that one could possibly become as rich and powerful as you want to. Of course, there are different kinds of people, and being an idealist, I am more concerned with happiness than I am with power and money (although those are not bad distractions and can lead to happiness for many people). The process to gaining this kind of meaningful relationship with my life and dreams, though, is totally compromised whenever I have to deal with the “machine” built by people whose dreams and hopes revolve around money and power. Not being judgmental, (ok well maybe a little!) I am excited and happy for people who pursue money and power to their own happiness. This is a wonderful thing.
The difficult thing for myself is that those of us who are more interested in other life endeavors do not have as clear and supported avenue/opportunity to our happiness. And believe me, I am not at all disappointed with the opportunities in America, rather I am frustrated that a person can work hard, be in love with their work, and have a happy, meaningful life, BUT without wasting some energy on financial pursuits, can end up hungry, homeless, hopeless, etc. I think this is a real issue confronting our civilization. I think this is one of the central issues confronting our frustrated times (it is definitely a central issue in my life a). This is a major cause of “the disease”. What I mean is this: this grand experiment we call America is not on a track to succeed. It is only on track to appease and cajole. (and believe me, I want it to succeed !!!)
Some symptoms of this disease area as follows:
A lawsuit against Mc Donald’s because someone spilled hot coffee in their lap.
Track Homes
Less than 5% of people control more than 90% of wealth
Affirmative action 
Health care system
Social security
Whenever a system or law supercedes a popular vote (not sure why we don’t make ALL decisions on popular votes)
A criminal code that would take more than one lifetime to read
Gun control
Whenever a criminal threatens someone’s life or property and then goes free
Whenever a person gets their freedoms taken away for possessing an “illegal substance” (what about internet drug stores?)
Movie ratings
Drinking age laws
Any legislated censorship (not sure why we don’t trust each other to know what is appropriate for our own children)
Average Salaries of Teachers / Law Enforcement / Fire Fighters
Civilians Contracted by the military (can’t soldiers be trained to do anything the military needs done?)
A law against sharing music (what good is music / art / poetry that you can’t share???)
Whenever money and power interferes with guilty or not-guilty (I understand that this will always be a problem with people who are wealthy getting more lenient treatment in court. But maybe, just maybe if we put our heads together, we could stifle a lot of this crap).
The fact that the population of jails and retention centers is so racially out of balance. (why are there so many minorities in jail?)
1 in 100 adults are in jail
federal tax code that is 66,000 pages long (even the people who write the tax code can't properly file their taxes!)

Porter Goss Quote & my commentary

"An enemy that's working in an amorphous network that doesn't have to worry about a bunch of regulations, chain of command, rule of law or anything else has got a huge advantage over a stultified, slow-moving bureaucratic, by-the-book" organization, Goss argued. "So we have to, within the law and within all the requirements of our professional ethics in this profession, develop agility. And that means putting a lot of judgment in the hands of individuals overseas."- Porter Goss

Interesting argument here. Basically he's saying that the most important things that America represents - the very foundations of our philosophy -are a liability in his business (of protecting America). Namely, the rule of law and civilized discourse. I wonder why he thinks that throwing all that away will produce faster (or any) results. It seems like that's not the kind of guy that I want in charge of our intelligence programs or making any kind of decisions about MY safety. I love this guy - we should put our nations securty into the hands of people (non-american strangers with their own agendas) overseas who can be more agile...thats his plan?
It brings up the following question:Which is the most productive and meaningful way to defend ourselves against terrorism?
1) Catch people we suspect are involved in terrorism (the culture of fear). Use methods (savory or unsavory) to convince them to turn in the other people who they say are involved in terrorism.
2) Kill people we suspect are involved in terrorism (the culture of fear).
3) Threaten ALL people that there will be dire consequences if they become involved in terrorism (the culture of fear) or associate with anyone we suspect of being involved in terrorism.
4) Find out what circumstances arise where anyone would want to/be convinced to become involved in terrorism (the culture of fear). Focus on changing those situations (even if it costs our national pride) so that people will not be drawn to a culture of fear. 
Idea:  As we all know, hope is the antithesis of fear. So I guess we would need to bring a culture of hope to those who don't have it. As it turns out, that's what makes America such a great experiment - hope. Also hope is the only real motivation for anyone to do anything productive (like dismantle a terrorist organization). Following my logic, then, the only way to get people whom we suspect to be part of a culture of fear to give us any reliable information about dismantling that culture would be to offer them some kind of hope. Again, not sure how one would do that, but I know (we all know) there's go to be a way. Fear is a weapon of the weak, chaotic, and petty - not of the strong, civilized and progressive. I do not agree with any anti-terrorist policy (or, for that matter, any policy - public or private) that uses fear as a means to an end.

OIl & Profits

Its definitely true that people making a run at the pumps really fucks up the "just in time" gas delivery system we have in the US. AND that the media is at fault for making a big deal about a shortage, when it hadn't even happened yet. Also true that we have a lot of people wasting gas everyday with their SUVs stuck in traffic. Especially those dumbasses who bought a Hummer thinking George Bush was going to protect the gas prices with his mighty middle eastern policies. I wonder, though, why we don't have any gas in storage somewhere, just in case a REAL emergency happens. Although this hurricane is one of the largest natural disasters in American History, Some people want the media and the "dumbass cockgobblers" to be at fault for it. I wonder what it would take for them to admit that we had a true emergency - Nuclear holocaust? Anyway - It seems to me that the lack of a plan to keep a couple of days storage of gasoline is really the culprit here (I'm sure the DOD has some stored up somewhere). Most other countries keep a gas storage (and that's how Canada and England were able to send us some on such short notice). Only reason I can think of that we don't have the storage for an emergency is so that the producers of gasoline can get a bonus off of our suffering. Another thing I learned about gas prices is that they are not purely set by market forces. Rather, the energy companies decide what to sell it for, based on what they think people will pay - that's why it goes up in the summer, because they know people will be traveling more (basically, the gas companies raise the prices at a time when we will be buying the most - this doubles their profits because we are buying more gas and buying it at a higher cost). It's also what drives up the cost of oil barrels in the summer> - this 'anticipated' consumer demand means that the companies who sell> oil to the gas producers can get paid more because the gas producers are> charging me more at the pump. And, speaking of economics, the energy companies base their strategies for growth and maintenance on a price of $25 per barrel of oil. In other words, they can pay their overhead, and still make a profit based on a price of $25 per barrel of oil (which would put gas back down to about $1.29 a gallon). So, when oil goes up past that (because of some corporate perception of consumer demand for gasoline or plastics), they are just> making more profits. Basically, this means that there have been increased profits for the energy people for many decades. This phenomenon is so well known and documented that it even has a name - "windfall profits". In fact, back in the Reagan administration, congress levied a tax on these "windfall profits" to help pay our way out of the recession. This tax lasted for 3 years. It is one of the few taxes that actually came to an end and was not renewed. Hmmm, wonder why that is? Wonder why we didn't use that money to set up a gasoline storage system? Or a mass transit system? Or a R&D effort to reduce our dependency on oil? Don't get me wrong, I think profits are great, as long as everyone can afford to pay in. If we are that rich and stupid, then why shouldn't someone make money off of it? But, when people who make minimum wage can't buy gas, it seems to me that a company (or consortium of companies in this case) who makes its profits off of the good fortune of America's great wealth and thriving market system should do the right thing, lower their prices and make less profits (this will never happen). Raising the minimum wage is not the answer - all this does is force the economy to pay for unnecessarily inflated prices of oil products. It seems to me that a company making 10 billion in profits could stand to make 9 billion in profits so we don't have to take action through the government (of any sort) to make sure that even the poorest among us can get to work and have milk in plastic bottles. I am pretty sure that the oil used for gasoline refining is a different type than the type used for making plastics. I think its idiotic to go drilling for more oil when we have plenty of alternative energy sources. There's no need to increase supply to make the prices of oil go down (in fact, this will make prices go up in the long run because it will continue our dependency on oil). What we need to do is decrease the energy consortium's profit margin and get it back in line with the real demand of our country. The general masses (anywhere around the> world) do not benefit form the price of oil being so high. Only the select few who control the flow of oil get any benefit. Why do you think they hate Hugo Chavez so much? This guy is making a killing off of selling oil to the US (where the corporations have inflated the price of oil to the ridiculous) and using that profit to sell oil to other countries at a price they can afford. Modern civilization depends on oil it is in everything we do. That's one of the big reasons why places like Cuba, Colombia, etc. don't have modern civilization - they can't afford oil and no-one with oil is willing to share.

Intelligent Discourse

I think the only way to the next level is through intelligent discourse andI welcome it at any time. I am not always right, but I am always looking tolearn something. And informed electorate is a powerful one. It always shockspeople to find out that I agree that the welfare system is a waste of timeand energy, corrupt, and actually contributes to the poverty it attempts toeliminate. This I know because I have seen it first hand. It also sends themfor a loop that I disagree with affirmative action and minimum wage. Again,I have seen the negative impacts of these policies and it is difficult tothink of any of them as solutions when they create so many problems. Some ofthe challenge of our generation is to try to understand the causes ofpoverty, discrimination, and destitution and solve those, rather thantreating the symptoms (to use a tired metaphor). Although treating thesymptoms gets a lot of publicity and might get you elected, it does moreharm than good, by prolonging the suffering.I agree that the market economy is the one of the best ideas to come out ofhumankind - it works. I also believe that part of the responsibility/job ofa government "by the people"; "of the people"; and "for the people" is tolook out for the people- all of the people. This means even the ones thatare lazy and worthless to the market, because (in my mind) they have worthas a person first and worth to the market second. (This 'radical' idea Ijust expressed, by the way, is not generally accepted throughout the bulk ofhumankind - I don't know why!)When a culture (like ours) has these two primary goals, it creates adichotomy that has to be continuously reconfigured through discussion,compromise, trial, error, innovation, etc. Its kind of like a goodrelationship - people with like interests and different perspectives thathave different methods but similar goals. This also means that there has tobe a streamlined process for interacting and reacting to different issues(politics) AND a way for these issues to become strategies (laws) AND a wayfor these strategies to be implemented (enforcement).In my mind, it is time to rethink some of our processes, laws, andenforcement (and I have plenty of ideas to that affect).

Conflicting Iraq War Evidence

There is so much conflicting evidence coming out as to what senior militaryand administration people knew before, during and after the twin towers wentdown. I just can't understand why anyone thought it was ok to attack Iraq atthe time we did. It seems to me that wise men (leaders) would have wanted toget all the information in one place and analyze it before they made anykind of huge decision like war. It also seems to me that a main strategythat should have been talked about before declaring war would be how to getfinished and come home. I am not even certain that there were any real goalsto accomplish before coming home. It seems to me like the people advisingthe president didn't think he would actually go to war and they didn't haveany kind of complete plan or complete information.I also find it extremely difficult to believe that these military leaderswould have rallied around George W. What did he know about war? I can't seeGeorge W. being able to gain the confidence of our military personnel withenough control to be able to convince them to execute what they knew to be apoorly planned mission based on conflicting information.Makes you wonder what person or small group of people have the power toconvince these hardened vets and generals to do the wrong thing for thewrong reasons. I just don't get it. How did well-educated seasoned combatvets and politicians allow this 'attacking Iraq' thing to get so far thatthey couldn't turn back? It seems like everyone of them would know in thebacks of their minds that this was a mistake. Why didn't they stand up andsay "wait a minute" or "lets take another look at this thing?"It just baffles me.

The Conundrum of Industry in America

There are a significant amount of industries falling apart in America. Especially in places like Ohio. What is interesting is that these places supported Mr. Bush. He won by a wide margin, even though his foreign and domestic policies are proven (by recent history) to hurt American manufactured goods. On the other hand, our economy is very strong right now. Its mostly because of the energy and war goods we control and peddle. Do we really want to protect manufacturers/industrial complexes in America? I wonder how much poisonous waste results from the foam making business that your brother is being fired from. Which leads to the next question: Is it ok for US/Japanese/Other corporations to move the manufacturing and industrial parts of their operations somewhere where it is cheaper and the government doesn't mind a little poison? At the end of the day, the two largest consumer nations are USA and CHINA. Which means all products long to be sold in one of those two markets, and there is no better home for your product than in a US market because we buy a lot of stuff at a huge mark up. Who is responsible for the problems of the manufacturing/industrial processes? Who should get the rewards? Are the consumers are responsible for the method of manufacturing and the huge infrastructure that must be built and maintained to service these industrial complexes? Should the corporations who get the benefit of the cheap labor and raw materials have to shoulder some of the responsibility for the damages their processes and products cause? Do the consumers have the right to insist that these processes/products be kept to the maximum standard for human health and harm? In America, generally, we have set a poor example for other countries to look to when it comes to this argument. In general, the american federal/state/local government ends up paying for an unfair amount of the damages caused by these harmful processes and products. The american federal/state/local government also pays for an unfair amount of the maintenance of the infrastructure. What that means is I have to pay and YOU have to pay. The corporations get the profit and we get the privilege of having a job and a safe place to raise our children. That's the American dream. If that's what you want America to be, then George Bush is your guy. His administration is preserving the American status quo by compelling the world to work together to uphold the solvency of our markets (which, by the way, is also in China's best interest because they own about 50% of our national debt and banking industry). Clinton was also your guy. His administration had the same goal. Tough decisions are ahead in the life of our country if we want to remain a leader in ideas, freedom, and justice.

National Priviledge

We are privileged to have the environment we have for our lives (I wouldargue that the baby boomers of Amercia have had the best living in recordedhistory - and its something we should be proud of). I personally believethat having a safe place to live and grow up is implied in the "unalienablerights" clause of our constitution. (ie. NOT a privilege, but a right).Unfortunately, the gentlemen in power are not willing to take the necessaryrisks to work in that direction. The power of America depends partly on theenvy of the world. If we make every other country as safe and their marketsas solvent as ours, we would no longer have any leverage amongst ourneighbors. It is, however, important to note that the power of America beganas a function of the respect other people/nations had for us during ourbeginnings. We had new ideas and concepts that held promise. We were willingto work towards them and we had nothing to lose. This is no longer the case.The types of risks that we take with our resources and power are aimed atcontinuing what I am calling the solvency of our markets. I am sure therearea economists who understand this stuff better than I do, but you get mygeneral idea. The solvency of the American market depends on big oil and bigmilitary at this time. There is (as you pointed out) much suffering in theworld. I agree with you that we have the power to minimize this suffering.Unfortunately, we have not figured out a way to make and control hugeprofits off of farming. In fact, we routinely subsidize most farming in theUS because they can't make a profit (or pay for their up-keep). Also,farming is done by huge machines. There is a low labor demand in farming.This will not produce the types of jobs you are hoping it will. This is nota bad idea/strategy for changing the course of our impact on the world, andis not a bad start at brainstorming about how we could keep the relativesolvency of our markets without causing mass destruction and consumption.The reason we need to preserve our market solvency is because we owe lots ofmoney to other people/nations. If we show that we can continue our strongmarket, then we will continue to have investors. Its funny, we have ademocracy that is supposed to be controlled by the people, but is truly aslave to its debt. This debt is a function of our over-consumptivetendencies. The fact that other interests own more than 50% of America'sdebt is a serious problem, because our debtors do not have the bestinterests of the American public in mind, and our leaders are underincreasing pressure to satisfy these other interests. Our leaders know thata certain standard has to be kept up in order to discourage civil unrest,but they and the other interests are not really worried about us losing1800+ of our volunteer army or billions of our (their) dollars, so long asthe economic forecast remains sunny and bright. It is a small price to payto those who have control of the American decision-making process.Unfortunately, again, this is not us, the people of America.One thing I can say for the Clinton administration is that they managed toeliminate the federal government's fiscal debt. This is a step in the rightdirection from my perspective, because it means that there is a small hopethat we could free ourselves from the debt of foreign interests, which wouldallow us to (if we wanted to) take control of our foreign agenda.The people of America are something akin to the spoiled teenagers of theworld's elite. I know that this is a loose analogy, because I have seen thepoverty and adversity in our country (ghettos, Indian reservations, methamphetamine addiction, methadone clinics, homeless shelters, halfway houses,etc.). Unfortunately, this is how the world views us and it is the role wehave assumed under the leadership of the presidents/administrations duringmy lifetime. The heroic America of the past has no real meaning or cloutanymore.I believe that you are right, if we want to be the leaders of the next fewgenerations and enjoy the high moral ground we love to talk so much about,we are going to have to refocus our energies and thought processes towardsthe true adversities in our environment. This might mean giving up some ofthe lessons of the market and embracing some new lessons. After all, how cana market really work if the people growing the food are not making anymoney? It also means looking towards our domestic problems as a place tolearn some of these new lessons, not rehashing old arguments about women'srights, discrimination, and the role of the christian church in school. Oncewe can understand things like rampant prescription addiction, depression,gluttony, and over-consumption, we might be able to offer each other adifferent outlook on our situation. We might be able to grow up and become avoice to be heard. Which might lead us to the solutions we are hoping tobless the rest of the world with. There's no doubt we have the power andtechnology to solve many of the problems in the world today, but we do nothave the maturity to perform such tasks. I am not sure any of thepost-modern power structures have this maturity.At this point, our perspective of privilege and the image we turn to theworld and each other are extremely hypocritical with respect to our actions.We want to pretend that we are saving the world from evil adversaries tofreedom, but we're not fooling anyone (except maybe the voters in Ohio- andmaybe not them anymore).Its natural for social creatures to give themselves over to a benevolentpower structure. Believe it or not, this can happen in Theocracies,Oligarchies, Democracies, Republics, Dictatorships, Cults, Fascist regimes,etc. Large social structures succeed for long periods of time when peoplebelieve they are being taken care of. That is the situation we findourselves in today. Most people don't think there is a huge problem with theway our society is being run and the results we are getting. SO, for changeto have any impetus at all, we need to convince people to look critically attheir environment. This is not impossible. We also need to convince peopleat the highest levels to do the same and to relinquish some of theirill-gotten power to the people who they are sworn to represent. This is amore daunting task, but again not impossible.We have been able to overcome so much human adversity in such a relativelyshort time. It will continue. This adversity has also been the mother ofinvention, innovation, dreams, hopes. We will never be able to overcome alladversity, because we will always be finding new mountains to move. Therewill not ever be a guarantee of a safe place to live and raise yourchildren. This stuff is nonsense, but we can strive to keep "raising thebar." The fact that our leaders will misrepresent our lust for thepreservation of the market as a step towards freedom is shameful anddishonest. I hope that I will see the end of that crap in my lifetime.

Identity Theft

For what its worth (and not to belittle the tribulatoins of anyone who has been violated), i believe that my identity is made up of my actions and experieces. I do not accept the myth that my identity can be stolen. It is my belief that the perpetration of what we call "identity theft" is wrong, immoral, and undoubtedly damaging. My main concern is that it is a mis-nomer, that is, someone has coined this phrase in order to try to link each one of us with our consumerism. I am confused (and quite frankly annoyed) by any statement which links my identity with my possessions or social status or job or image, for that matter. I am also frustrated and alarmed that I contribute to a system which could allow such a thing to happen to your friend (perhaps the real criminal here is lack of development of a system before implementation).
It seems to me that when people are faced with tough dewcisions and adversity, the way they act and respond to such things is more important than their societal status. If someone takes my societal status away, it does not change who i am or what i am capable of. In fact, facing a new challenge will only increase my knowledge, potential and where-with-all.
As for wealth, here is another common mis-nomer which is used by our over-bloated, selfish, imperialistic, spoiled, ungrateful culture. Whenever people use the idea of wealth to mean personal worth, buying power, as measured by the American consumer-based philosophy, it reminds me of just how ridiculous our perspective has become. As we all know, the only wealth in this world is our friends and families. People are the most important resource people have and the positive, constructive interaction between them is the only way to increase wealth.
I know that we understand this implicitly and i am not accusing anyone of being superfluous, rather I just clarifying what my original statement means to me. When I question the usefulness of calling experian, equifax, trans union as an act to protect my identity or wealth, i am coming from a perspective of: How can a bank or consumer association or credit bureau protect my experiences, friendships, or actions? AND Why do i live in a culture where i have to check with the banks, credit bureaus, consumer associations to see if i am a legitimate, legal person? (this is when i start to get pissed)
I am willing to bet that your friend, Gary, who has been through this crisis of losing her entire connection with the "civilized" world (and probably also tragically losing her ability to provide for her children as a result) would agree with me that the things we are so quick to protect in our society are not the valuables we think they are.
My main concern is that our culture has gotten so far away from the good stuff of life (and the fair and equitable distribution of such stuff), that we are no longer worried about designing and implementing systems that will protect each other from the mischievious and desparate elements of human nature. Our main desire seems to be the perpetuation of this consumer-based nightmare we all find ourselves in. As a peon in this system, i can tell you that it would be inconvenient for me to lose my possesions and lifestyle, but the plain fact of the matter is that all that I am worth under the American sun is less than many people make in one month. I could give you a list of the people who consumerism benefits in the country, but the bigger problem is that what i am worth could feed tens of thousands who just died of starvation while i was composing this email (who now have no identity, i think we would all agree).
The idea of "identity theft" is ridiculous. The idea of "wealth", as a function of the American consumer-based model is equally morose. I dare anyone to take away my identity by spending money in my name or ruining my credit ! I dare anyone to take away my wealth by taking my possessions away from me ! I dare anyopne to break me by casting me out of this hypocritical society of inbred paranoia and fear-mongering.
So you might ask, Why should I give people the opportunity to take away all the consumerism i have "earned" to this point? Because although my consumerism and potential consumerism has a value, is not who I am !
You might also ask, Isn't it worth something to be an American citizen with a legitimate social-security number, birth certificate, etc.? Yes, yes it is worth something, but best to keep it in perspective.

Dubya Voting Satire

This just in - Democrats are turning out in droves to vote for Dubya in the primaries. In unprecedented numbers, people all over the country are turning their votes into one voice for George W. Bush. Is it an evil mind ray that Haliburton has developed? Is it the final takeover of the U.S. by Texas?
Let's interview some of the faithful.
"Excuse me, what made you change your mind?"
Some early responses:
"I am tired of this two party system and all the bickering - can't we all just get along?"
"George is a man's name - who names their son Kerry?"
"I wanted the chance to vote for a winner this year."
"I heard that CHAD whatshisname is running in Florida again this year - Democratic candidiates don't stand a chance against him."
"Whaddya mean George is a Republican? We live in a Democracy, stupid! "
"I wanted a President who could increase debt while cutting education and pissing off the world."
"We need a man in the White House who will do whatever it takes to make Gotham safe for the Iraqi citizens."
"I figured it would push the U.S. towards vilolent revolution."
"As a Democrat, I have always voted for the ruling Elite."
"I have always supported war and war products -it put my son through medical school and helped him start his first practice."
"Are you implying I'm a bad American?"
"I support the President in whatever he does."
"We need more men in Uniforms."
"Historically, after wars when the Women outnumber the Men in our society, we have been very successful."
"He's much cuter than Mr. Edwards."
"I, like all good Christians, believe in the trinity of Father, Son and the Holy War."
"I wanted the country to be United again, just like in the old days before Lincoln made us share with them colored people - those were good times."

MIddle East Confusion & US Safety

I am sitting at work during my lunch and i am reading the cnn and the bbc as i usually do. I am suddenly confronted with 2 stories about Sunni Muslims killing Shiite Muslims on the Shiite Muslim's most holy day (Iraq & Pakistan are the places).

As I read through these stories, I am again struck by the feeling of total helplessness.
I ask myself : How is it that the suicide bombers and gunman of the Sunnis (Saddam's 'sect' - for lack of a better word - of Islam) will be rewarded by Allah in the afterlife for killing the 'unbelievers' (i think the Shiites actually do believe in Allah)? I also ask myself: doesn't this now make the Shiites who were killed during a holy prayer ritual martyrs? Won't they also now be rewarded by Allah in the after life?
To my western mind this is a cunundrum (sp?).
So i become more confused than i already was about the Middle Eastern turmoil. I ask myself: what do i (or any of us) really know about these cultures in turmoil? Well I've come up with a few ideas:
1. Faith is probably the most powerful thing these people have going for them.
2. I have to assume that the majority of Middle Eastern people really do want the same things people everywhere want (since most of them are not systematically killing each other for Allah or spite or any other reason).
3. Even if this notion in #2 is totally false, I have come to understand that some of the people are willing to kill and die for ideals they believe in (which, by the way, I think is very noble - not usually the wisest path, but noble nonetheless).
The main disconnect for me is that i am not really sure what they believe in. I am also not really sure that they are sure what they believe in. I am also very confused as to why the majority of the people who seem to be more interested in having food, shelter, purposeful life pursuits, etc. could even allow this type of behavior in their culture. I am also skeptical that ANYONE in a western culture would actually be able to understand it without a half of a life-time of study and immersion.
So, as far as i can see (unfortunately, all i have to go on is what the media and my government tell me), the Middle Eastern cultures which are in turmoil are based on two main principles: Faith and protecting that faith by violent, suicidal, desparate acts.
As far as I know our Western Culture is also based on two main principles: peace and prosperity.
(which, as a side note, is why I am 100% frustrated with our political leadership, including the Senate, Cheney, Blair, Bush, UN & co. AND also 100% frustrated in our corporate leadership, including OPEC, SEC, Chrysler/Ford/General Motors, the EU, MBNA, Citicorp, Wall Street, Pfizer, Hollywood, comcast, clear channel, etc, etc.)
Now I am totally confused because I can't see why a culture that believes in peace and prosperity would waste its precious resources, lives, and time trying to get in between the goings-on of a culture that believes in desparate acts of faith.
At first I was thinking, well it's possible that we could probably stop the Middle Eastern Turmoil from coming over to our soil, since i really didn't appreciate them knocking down our buildings which resulted in the untimely deaths of our people (by the way, how many CEOs, CFOs & COOs were in the trade center when it went down?). Although, I am not convinced that we have made any real progress in securing our country by meddling in the affairs of others. In fact, I am worried by articles that tell me of a college student who set out to test the new security measures and beat many of them.

I want to believe that we are secure and prosperous in our country, and I am dismayed to find out that despite our best efforts, it is simply not true. I am not convinced that there ever was order in Iraq / Iran and I am pretty sure that a Western Coaliton will not be able to bring peace there (ex. Haiti). AS a matter of fact, we can't even propagate peace in Ireland (which is a couple of christian groups who live their lives around desparate defense of faith - or is it just revenge?)!

I remain unconvinced that the capture of Saddam and the placement of a democracy in Iraq is the solution to our security here at home. Did you see the guy who ran his SUV into the Hawaiian (sp?) airport? HOW IN THE HELL CAN THIS HAPPEN IN AMERICA ??

I could go on and on and on and on...
There will be more bad guys, guys.
Please help me get the word out to bring our troops home for the DEFENSE and PROTECTION of AMERICA.
Please help me remind people that the real enemies of peace and prosperity are war mongering and monopolization, violence and price fixing, hunger and poverty, and as some would say,
death & taxes :)
and one final peace of rhetoric:
Stop beating the drums of war (destroy those damn things) and recommit to building the bridges to prosperity,

Things I know

So here it is, all I know. Before this point in time, I was not truly connected to my surroundings, rather I was a silent observer, only talking when I was spoken to, only doing what was expected of me. It is at that point in time when I decided to become involved in the universe that I existed in, when I first began to enjoy the investigation of the female phenomenon. It is only in my mind, of course, that I was a watcher and in no way actually connected to the places I had been. After all, this is the reason for everything that happens, that is, the perception of self. In every situation that involves people, there is what is really happening, and then there is the perceived (which is usually much more interesting.) I cannot really say that I was never involved in my reality and interactions with people before that point, but I can truly express that it is the only place where I knew in my mind that I was not. When a mind is convinced of a thing, it is not really a fantasy, per say, it is a possible reality (especially for the mind it exists in!)
When someone makes a judgment about another person, it is based explicitly on the judging party’s experience, nothing else. This is the beauty and the bane of pop culture, and although it provides a common experience for us to resonate with, it also sets up a false sense of knowledge, in fact it is a completely fictitious representation based on committee rule. This in itself is not bad, rather, it is very entertaining, educational, and highly useful. When it becomes a terrible problem is when people become so enamored with the sentiments of pop culture, or any other organized social system (including, but not limited to religion, countries, politics, family, cults, counter cultures, law enforcement, financial markets, etc.) that they forget to pay attention to their own perceptions, emotions, and desires. It is a wonderful thing to have someone to emulate in your life as a hero or role model, and yet still more of a tragedy for anyone to look to anyone else as a blueprint to specifically fashion themselves after.
So it goes that everything that I know has several sides to it and everything I know is only one sided- my sided. I can’t tell why there is an inherent contradiction to everything I think about, write about, or try to explain. I can tell this, though, that I don’t believe anything is real unless it has a hypocritical angle to it. Human beings are the most backwards and forwards creatures, existing in harmony as contradiction in motion. Does this excuse us for the atrocities born out of ignorance, lust, psychosis (whatever that is), or passion? Of course not, yet it is the explanation for why we are able to create miracles and ultimate destruction. Anything we dream, we eventually do. Now that is what I call power!! Who wants some?
The ultimate strength of convergence / divergence, is when we can do both at the same time, can you imagine an entity that can do and think contradictory things all the time? What a fucking incredible thing it is that people possess. I can understand that fantasy is the denial of our true nature, and I can understand the force behind hiding from the fact that we can do any fucking thing we want to do is the fear of screwing it up. When a person tries to take away that thing which makes us each the most amazing creature ever, the whole reality around that person succumbs to disaster.
So the submission of myself into diverting energies towards the constant search for the delicate meanings behind the differences between me and women, also eventually just leads to recognizing the differences between me and all the others out there. One is always alone and no matter how often other people help you and look out for you, the only person you have to ever please is yourself. So how can knowing others really be any more than knowing yourself? It can’t. That is why I am always trying to get to know people who can bring the possibility of me being under my own power closer and people who separate me form myself further away.
How in the world is it that a person begins to write things that can never be written or understood by anyone else? It just happens when there is more inside a mind then can possibly be expressed during the course of their normal, daily existence. I happens so with the other forms of expression, and even causes craziness on the most extreme levels. A persons mind is way more powerful than anything else they ever come into contact with. This is true whether or not they actually know it or not. Most people are so consumed by what is in their minds that they cannot separate it from the reality they live in. No matter how hard one tries, they can never escape their own minds while they are alive.
So now all I know is no more than a restatement of the obvious. That’s ok with me, if you are bored reading this and become disinterested, believe me, it won’t hurt my feelings when these words go left unread. It is important, though for me to belong to my written word, and it is one of the great tools which I can use to soothe the twitching of my life on the inside. I know that no one else will ever make a judgment like I do, nor will the world ever be perceived and acted upon like I can.

So I got to know the people in my world. They were really excellent adaptations of the species, and each very willful in their own way. It still fascinates me to meet new people and to reaffirm that we all want to belong, but are each instinctively very different from each other. What is it that keeps us from accepting our own nature, the really good stuff about humans is that we are all different. Fuck science, I do not believe that there is anything predictable about what a person can do, who they are, what they become, how to “fix” them if they are broken, or any other reasonable fantasy that lumps us all together in anything but the broadest of categories. Wherever similarities do exist, is the very opportunity for a new stream of thought, not a place to hide for comfort’s sake. What I have really learned to do is listen. I will always diligently watch, whether I want to or not. I am terribly curious about people, and I am always hoping that they could reach their dreams. I am sure that we can never be aside from the instant gratification which is so often sought (or denied, which is really the same thing) and it is even more beautiful when a trail of instant gratification can lead to a larger satisfaction or realization of a dream. If you had everything you ever wanted, what would you wish for?
So now I am in the chase for the elusive things that are beyond my control, the things which want to be, yet have no facilitator. It can be no different than the mildest of dreams, the most ordinary of desires, the least of all we pretend we want. I can never return what is given to me, I can never pass on how I am, I can never become something I am not; and yet, it is my meaning to belong to the next step. It is only due to the unfulfilled desires of all of us that we are able to harm each other. There is no other farther icon from hope than hope itself. This fantasy which we take as a desire to affect the future in a ‘good’ way is hope. Do we ever have control of the way we are perceived, the results of the things we do, how we feel, what we cause others to feel, or anything other than exactly what we are thinking at any given moment? It is the only thing I know.
So we have choices, and they are only limited by what we can imagine. Contrary to many beliefs, it is the mind that has the ultimate say in what choices we make. Of course, for choices to actually become part of our physical existence, they must be somehow reconciled with what we are feeling and how this makes the transition (if it ever can make the transition) from our imagination to our reality. No matter how often we are denied by reality, there are more times that we are satisfied by our world, yet this does not satisfy us. It is also built into us that no matter how often we are satisfied by reality and no matter how complete of a satisfaction we obtain, we always (even if it is secretly) want more. The fact remains: the mind is more powerful, faster, harder working, and beyond direct control of the places we have been. I can never make choices for someone else, Even if they appear to me junior in some way to me. It is impossible for anyone to be outside of themselves, have control over anything beyond their grasp, or borrow someone else’s life for their own meanings. It goes back to the basis of all life being dependent on that individual’s experiences. The most reliable connection we have to each other is our environment, it is the one thing that we are always interconnected through.
Now, let me also say that in my mind I believe that people can be connected in many other ways, but I cannot say why or how these other ways happen. I also cannot say what significance, if any, these other connections actually have and I can also say that at any one moment someone’s mind can have more control over the mutual environment than everyone else’s mind. It comes down to power and how much a person is endowed with. When a person believes that they are responsible for the environment, and other people give them the power to manage it, they will have some power over it. I know, though, that this is really just in the minds of the people involved. This is our most valuable possession, the fact that we can agree on something, and make it part of reality. From one mind, reality may or may not become altered to lesser and greater degrees. From an agreement between minds, the environment will change rapidly and without constriction to greater degrees of alteration than that of one mind. It will also have a tendency to become more perverted, since there are so many experiences influencing the dynamic of the change and there are so many other things that are hidden strengths among the different minds, making the entire situation more volatile.
Not sure exactly what I am trying to say, or if I am trying to communicate anything at all, just placing the things I know on paper does not really mean that they are so, and does not mean I won’t change my mind tomorrow, and does not mean that they have any real value at all. All I know doesn’t ever have to be anything, after all.


I am becoming more and more certain that the key to having any success with improving human beings and our cultures is to pay attention to what i call "the fringe." This is the space in our minds and the places we live in which experience progression from good to indifferent, indifferent to poor, poor to bad, bad to worse, etc. THESE AREAS ARE WHERE THE TRUE BATTLES ARE WON AND LOST. It is more and more apparent that if we can have a better understanding and control over the places that are "slipping," we can increase the happiness of individuals and success rate of our species. Of course, success to me and to you are going to be incredibly different things, but that's why we have this innate ability to communicate. My definition for these places on the fringe is as follows: whenever people are hurting themselves or others. The fringe will remain unlimited, even if kept to these simple borders and it will always be a constant reminder of what we become when we forget about consequences.
These theories about making the best better and making the worst disappear are more folly than reality. There is no way of avoiding this fringe condition in human endeavor, and it is the way we deal with it (or ignore it) that makes for better or worse down the road. It is hard work being human, and takes the use of all of our resources (especially the ones which connect us to each other's ideas) just to keep ahead of the fringe.


"It is deeply troubling that Architects, the Architectural Profession, Architectural History, and Architectural Criticism are more concerned with Architects, the Architectural Profession, Architectural History, and other Architectural Criticisms than the people we are supposed to serve. Why are we so self-absorbed?"
"Our perpetuation of the mythical, mysterious, grandiose, extravagant Architect persona widens the gulf between our Profession and those we are ethically bound (and legally licensed) to protect. Why do we hide? What are we afraid of?"

Palin & Obama

People like nicknames. They are seen as a term of endearment. Plus Sarah is about the most American sounding name you could have and she named her children with words that Americans can understand. Nobody knows what a Barack is. Americans don't like words and people that they don't understand.Harvard law professors are very rare and we don't trust them. They are always telling us how to think and what to do. Very frustrating and condescending. Most graduates in America didn't graduate from their first college. Most of us didn't even graduate in four years. Mostly because they didn't have any remote chance of going to Harvard with the elites. The electorate also suspects that Barack only went to Harvard because of some affirmative action policy and they resent him for it because they perceive that someone else deserving got turned down to let him in.Community organizers and Senators all have the unintended effect of taking our money and giving it to people who we generally think don't deserve it. We don't trust them. Why don't they teach the community to stand up on its own instead of asking for a handout? Plus we all assume (because of witnessing years of corruption and payoffs) that anyone who has the power to organize people is on the take. The electorate believes that they have to be making dirty backroom deals in order to get the stuff done. Palin is pretty and well spoken with an attitude and a chip on her shoulder. The electorate is filled with people like her (and people who want to be like her) who also believe that they could do a better job as Governor or mayor than the scumbag who is there now. Its not a stretch to understand why she empowers women with her story. Especially lower income women (which these days because of the shrinking middle class and contracting economy are more and more prevalent) who have used their good looks and charm to gain access into higher society. Most young poor girls dream of a day when some rich prince will come recognize their talent and looks and sweep them up to high society. This is a myth told to our daughters to give them hope and Palin has exceeded the dream, not even needing the prince. People understand that. Barack is not part of our folklore. He is part of the folklore of what the electorate believes is a subset of our culture (single mom, unknown origin, worked the system, persevered).People understand hypocrisy in their families and churches, especially parents who have to lie to their children to shelter them from the nasty culture we have. The dichotomy of living in a free society and trying to protect your children is a reality we all live everyday. We also sympathize with others who have not been able to keep the nasty free culture from corrupting their children. The electorate suspects that the Obamas aren't as perfect as they appear to be. Same wife? No problems with the children? We often see these types of families in exposes after the father has murdered his co workers or turned up dead in drag in a gay bathhouse. We don't trust the family down the street that has everything and never gets in trouble whose children are all A students. Again, understand that this is the rare exception in America - not the norm. The electorate suspects that the Obamas will screw up or have screwed up and are just good at the cover up. We all have screw-ups in our family who have embarrassed us. That makes us real. Obamas are not real. We don't know anyone like them. Their family is weird and not to be trusted.Oh and sex education is liberal bullshit to get our children into sex too early. Everyone knows that when you take away the taboo, you take away romance and ruin the culture. Plus it takes away our children's innocence before we are ready to give it up. The culture of denial is very strong in our country. When you try to hit it head on, you find yourself in very unpopular company. Better to stick to denial and repentance like Palin. I agree totally that we have misplaced values, but the sentiment doesn't match up to actual America. The truth is, Americans don't trust successful people who have perfect families. We have to have a candidate to support who is more like us, regardless of the consequences to our government. The presidency is a popularity contest. Republicans know this. Democrats are completely blind to this.

Team Play

The two party system has all the appearances of a fair and balanced system. It appears to have both sides constantly angling for majority opinion and support in order to move the minority ideas out of the realm of public discourse, while also having the effect of protecting certain minority positions through political wrangling when smart people think they know what'0s best for the majority. While having some success, it doesn't actually address problems in a meaningful and straightforward way. Rather, the two party system results in the movement of public opinion from one side to another, always showing support for the overall goals of society without ever actually trying to reach those goals. Let me use a sports analogy: Football.
You are a Giants fan and I am a Cowboys fan. We work at the same company, live in the same neighborhood, our children go to the same schools, our wives shop at the same stores, we both have Directv & a Sony HDTV, etc. You get the picture. On game day, however, I hate your team and you hate my team. In fact, we might even get in a fist fight over a call in a game every few years. But we always make up by Tuesday and we go on with our lives because football isn't everything and really has no bearing on how successful we are or how much money we make, or whether our kids go to good schools, you know, the important stuff in life.
So lets take a little bit deeper look at why we love football so much and why team loyalty is so important. Each team has its own personality. This fits with its fans and serves to increase fan loyalty (or increase animosity from the other team's fans). We live in a society where competition is placed up with the loftiest of ideals. Competition is on par in America with patriotism, love of family, personal responsibility, and freedom. The hook on competition is that someone wins (getting the spoils) and someone loses (giving up the spoils). We cheer and look up to people who win. Winning is very important because it is the pinnacle of competition. Even if your team makes it to the playoffs, people look up to them because that means they won more often or won the important games. When your team wins, you get this sense of sharing the win, you also vicariously succeed. When your team wins, you become the successful free man who loves his family. So, when the Giants win against the Cowboys, you are a vicarious hero and I am stuck with the personal responsibility of sticking up for my team even though they lost. Notice, however, even if my team loses, I win the right to show my personal responsibility and thus reinforce that I am still part of the important ideals of our country.
Lets look further, though, into who really wins in this scenario. While you and I were rolling around in the backyard because of a bad call, FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN, TBS, etc are arguing about who gets the right to the superbowl broadcast for 2012. The tv network wins no matter what. In the microculture of Dallas fans vs Giants fans, neither one of us cares about the tv coverage, but the bigger culture understands that having the right to show the game in your living room and my living room at the same time is valuable. The NFL wins. The NFL makes money every time you buy a ticket, buy a beer in the ball park, buy a hat, buy a shirt or any official NFL gear. By that standard, too, all the NFL franchises win when you buy schwag from their teams. Nike wins. They sell lots of shoes because of my kids obsession with T Owens. They sell headbands and undershirts. They economy wins because the NFL franchise and the people who are in control of the bigger picture are smart and powerful. If (like in the NHL) the people who control the bigger picture are dumb, then the league goes out of business and we all lose.
So apply this idea to the republicans and the democrats. This two team system is very strong. Although our political system has the option to be flexible and accommodate wide ranging debates on the issues and an infinite number of teams, it does not because the two team system has been properly managed and works to benefit a great number of people. The two team system also plays into the psyche of the wider American culture because of our love of football and our love of baseball and our love of head to head action. If you think about it, Nascar is way more democratic that football. There are
30+ teams in every competition. Anyway I digress. This two team system
30+ is
ingenious and probably grew organically with the times because people who really care about politics are the minority in our country and they needed to figure out a way to get the rest of us involved. Team loyalty applies here too. I still cheer for the Cowboys, even though I know that they are a bunch of drugged up babies who have serious mental problems. Why? Because it makes me happy when my team wins. It also makes me happy to see the look on the other people's faces when there team gets beat by mine. After all it is just entertainment and on Monday, we are all friends again. This team loyalty to the repubs or the demos is very strong and our culture reinforces it everywhere. Again, if managed properly, this system works and everyone prospers. Remember, too, that the campaigns are a microculture of us vs them and there are clear winners, regardless of the outcome of the current game. Although I can tell that there are some clear winners, I have to admit it is not as easy to point out who wins regardless of the election outcome.
This much I do know, though, I never win. Doesn't matter if Repubs win or demos win, I lose. No one shows up at my house with a check or even a thank you. I get almost half of my earnings stolen from me without my consent and put into the hands of people who don't even know me. I get lied to. If a party wins, they never implement the things they promised in their platform. Then I get lied to again when they try to explain why they are not following their platform. At least the Cowboys don't lie to me or steal my paycheck and they always thank their fans for supporting them. I also get extra restrictions put on my life that I don't need or agree with and that I can't do anything about. Why should there be a law against walking around outside nude? That's really kind of insane that one could get arrested and detained against their will for taking off their clothes - and there are thousands of insane laws like that. When people get disappointed in me because I vote none of the above, I understand that they are caught up in the team loyalty stuff. Its like having an avid soccer fan talk to you about soccer. Who cares? And so many Americans are disengaged from politics. If politics wasn't a direct and everlasting drag on my ability to achieve success in this world, I wouldn't pay attention either.
Lets be honest, there will always be a power structure of people who benefit from what the rest of us do. That's why anarchy, atheism, and similar ideas will never take hold because they are born in a contradiction. You can't be anti-establishment or ant- religion without admitting that they exist. So, we need more games like Nascar where many teams compete side by side and there are accumulated points available over time to show who was the best. We should invent one.

Issues with Senate Bill for Bailout

1) Treasury Secretary holds all the power with some perceived oversight, not actual boundaries. This is a huge mistake. Many built in checks are specifically written out of this bill, like the Secretary is able to waive provisions of the federal acquisition regulation. Not only are we giving the secretary a crap load of money, but there are no standards built in around how he can spend it.
2) The few generalized boundaries that exist have no attached consequences written into the language that would actually deter the secretary from overstepping them. If the oversight committees or the GAO or the comptroller find there has been a problem with the administration of the money, then there are no specific actions they can take to stop the money distribution or punish those who have screwed up. Only a DOJ judicial review would have the power to stop or punish transgressions. Congress has no power. Wow. They wrote a bill that gives all the power to the executive branch and nothing to themselves (us). Plus, the DOJ cannot issue injunctions against the secretary unless they have violated the constitution.
3) A security that is bought does not have to be sold once it reaches a profit level. This means that the treasury/fed could possibly become a player on new levels in the market. Very dangerous and a recipe for disaster.
4) The bailout is not limited to housing and commercial foreclosures. The treasury Secretary can buy anything he wants if it is deemed necessary to stabilize the economy. There isn't even a provision to buy up bad mortgages & securities backed by mortgages first. No protocol, just buy whatever the secretary wants.
5) Only executives of companies that participate in direct purchases with the secretary will have their compensation restricted. In other words, if the secretary/fed buys some bad assets directly off of the company, then they will have to limit executive compensation. However, if the secretary/fed helps a company in a different way, say by offering insurance on their bad assets, or by buying a stake in their bad assets, without actually taking over the assets, or if the fed has to auction off their bad assets, then there would be no restriction on compensation for the executives of the company. Also, the executive compensation is only limited to whatever the secretary thinks is appropriate. Wow.
6) Foreign financial authorities qualify for money under the bailout if they hold troubled assets as a result of this situation. Wow. Again, totally at the discretion of the secretary of the treasury. Unbelievable.
7) Sets up an Inspector General whose duties are to provide the information which will make most of this process transparent. Includes daily accounting and publishing on the internet and preparation of reports. Very important function, but if the IG can't get the information he/she is supposed to share with the rest of us, he/she has no recourse. Not authority to force anyone to give them any information. Only recourse is to report the problem to the Congress committees (whom I have mentioned before have no real authority either).
8) The president's office can issue executive orders to keep any information from being disclosed to the public. Amazing.
9) Although the talking heads claim that we might make money form this fiasco, the bill specifically raises the ceiling for the national debt to 11.315 trillion dollars. (from 9.815 trillion) if we are making money, why do we need to authorize an increase in the debt ceiling?
10) pages 113 thru 261 (division B) is energy policy. Incredible.
11) pages 261 thru 451 (division C) is tax policies & land management policies. That's bullshit.

Free Trade and Energy Independence

Well you can't have both. Not possible. If we move towards American energy independence, we will be putting all of our energy supply in the hands of American companies. This sounds like a great idea and for the most part it makes sense, but lets not forget what Standard oil and the Rockefellers and the Car manufacturers did to our country when they had control of their respective markets.
Main benefits to 'energy independence':
Keeps control of our energy supply with Americans (in theory). Allows us to have a continual national conversation about energy conservation (in theory) and how much energy we have Promotes technology development within the country (in theory) Keeps us from attacking other cultures when we disagree with their level of enthusiasm to provide us with the energy products we want.
Problems of 'energy independence'
How do we keep other countries or financial interests from controlling the companies that are involved in this energy independence? You know damn well that without a strict law saying no outside funding or resources will be allowed to be involved in the energy companies, there will always be others involved. This line of protectionism would basically get rid of any idea of free market and goes against everything we supposedly stand for. Realistically, there would be companies involved with producing our energy products that have multiple interests. There is no way an energy producing company could ever be American owned, funded and operated. The global money supply is too interconnected.
Without market forces, how do we know we are getting the best deal on the energy products? We know we would absolutely not be getting the best deal because we would be a captive market with a minority of people able to control the pricing of the energy products. Unless, of course, we forced (by
law) the companies who are providing the energy products to price their products against some global energy index or some index of GDP. Well that wouldn't be free market at all would it? Realistically, this would never happen, because what company would want to limit its profits in such a way?

This political football of energy independence stinks. It has the stench of bullshit all over it. Drill here or put up solar panels in the desert - it doesn't matter who talks about it, we should all make sure that we don't fall for this sham. There is no such thing as energy independence.
There is only energy dependence. Anyone who tells you they are for energy independence and for free energy markets is a liar.

Bailout Endgame

Is the endgame of the massive fed bailout will not actually save our markets, but only has the effect of prolonging the collapse so that people with wealth and resources can get their affairs organized? If so, think also about this: if we use the federal government as collateral to recapitalize these banks, the federal government will also be completely insolvent at the time the markets finally collapse.
This matters.
When the federal government becomes insolvent, it will be the end of all services that do not support military objectives. No more human rights, fair courts, education, healthcare, oversight. Millions of people will lose their federal jobs. All class action lawsuits will be settled or discarded. Debtors prisons will become high fashion. Farmers will be forced to produce food for nothing or will be conscripted into the military. Every person who is below 50K per year right now will become severely impoverished. Measles, smallpox, influenza, dysentery to follow. Not the end of the world but the end of the world as we know it.


It has value only because we all agree it has value.
Governments create money by issuing dollars.
Banks create money by issuing debt. Most of our money is created this way.
The only way to ever get past the monetary system we have is a situation where money has no value in peoples minds.

Whenever news stories or politicians start talking about the number of dollars, they are (consciously or not) talking away from the represented value. It doesn't matter how many billions or trillions of dollar units are involved, what matters is what those dollars are supposed to represent.

Issues stemming from the existence of money:

Issue #1

There is a perception of the vast majority of people that spending a large sum of money on a policy or an initiative will result in success. Even though we have proven over and over that the management of the resources purchased by the money is far more valuable than the actual expenditure, nobody preceives it that way.
Example: Donald Trump has gone bankrupt (losing other people's money) several times after spending millions on development of buildings. He has also made crapload of money for his investors on other projects.

Issue #2

We make decisions about how important things are to others (individuals and groups) by comparing how much money they spend on one thing to how little they spend on something else. We also use this as a yardstick to judge whether or not other people agree with our opinions. This is a danger because it allows one idea (money) to enter into and distract from every other discussion of ideas.
Example: The belief that buying products made outside of America makes one unpatriotic.

Issue #3

We measure the value of things by comparing how much they cost in dollars to how much other things cost in dollars. This measure of value directs how we spend our money. The idea of getting a bargain will often cause us to spend money on something we would normally save or spend on something else. The danger with this issue is that we are distracted when spending our money, which inevitably leads to a need for more money.
Example: Most Lottery winners are broke within two years of collecting the prize.

Issue #4

We measure the value of people and their ideas by comparing how much money they have and how much money they have 'made' with the fortunes of other people. The danger with this issue is that money distracts us from properly evaluating people's ideas.
Example: Ross Perot was the most successful independent candidate in our lives - people respected him because they judged him to be a success based on how much money he had accumulated. This led to the judgement that he could be a success as President.

Issue #5

The value of money is easily misrepresented. This is a danger because it encourages people to be dishonest with each other when making transactions.
Example: 1000 dollar 'cash back' offers from a car dealership.

Issue #6

The promise of future money can be used in exchange for goods and services in the present. Loans/Credit is dangerous because it artificially accelerates the change in the value of goods and services.
Example: Past, recent, and future housing market bubbles.

Issue #7

Money can be misrepresented as power. This is dangerous because some human beings have proven repeatedly that they are not able to use actual power responsibly. Pretending money is power provides another avenue for us to abuse each other.
Example: Management offers a structured bonus package at the beginning of the year (the carrot), rather than handing out a much earned and unexpected bonus after the good year has been already completed (actual reward).

Is there any reason to address these issues? Well, I can see the upside and the downside of each one of the issues. I think it important and appropriate to articulate the downsides to the money system. In my opinion, there is quite a bit of value (within the system) in limiting the downsides, as well.

I guess the next question would be: Is there any way to actually limit the downside of these issues? I have been reading quite a large array of opinions about whether this is even possible. I believe that this idea of downside limits has been tried many different ways. Some of the downside limiters have met with success others have been an abyssmal failure. Mostly, the success of the limt depends directly on the attitude of the people in the system. Much like confidence in the markets, confidence in the limits on the monetary system depend on whether or not people think they are being successful or are ging to be able to be successful in that environment. If people think they will reach success, they will not try to circumvent the limits and will speak out against or punish others for circumventing the limits. Its because they believe that the limits are contributing to their success. If there is failure or rumor of failure, the limits will be immediatley questioned and changed. At the end of the day people want to be successful and they want the monetary system to work for them.

My gut feeling is that the money system as we have it today will never be able to properly serve the needs of a human being value exchange system and I do not think that the storage and exchange of value between people will ever be served properly by a money system. My simple reasoning is that everytime people try to take their ideas and exchange them through the physical world, there is always distortion. Unfortuantely, we all think our value system is the best and we will never put a larger value on ideas, services, or goods that someone else produces. The milk farmer will always think milk is more valuable than money and the banker will always think the sanctity of money is more valuable than milk.