Email From a Nephew

I’ve been doing email since all I had to do it with was a command-line Compuserve account in 1992. Then Prodigy; then Compuserve went graphical with a release for Windows 3.0; I tried AOL. Then I discovered the Internet under the "internet," as served up by all these services and used whatever email client and USENET newsreader I wanted — and later a web browser.

But I’d been writing in journals, writing long letters to people, and then writing in a word-processor after I acquired my first computer in 1990. One friend (see previous blog entry) once received a 13-page, single-spaced letter written in Word 1.0, in 1991 — in response to his one-pager written on some Mac thingy. That’s how long that discussion has been going on.

I just like to write. And when I think about that, I always think of two power-company engineers who went to our church when I was a kid; I looked up to them both. They both had advanced engineering degrees and important jobs. One was clearly smarter than the other in technical terms. As a hobby, he built HAM radios and all sorts of other things. He was the kind of guy who could invent something electronic. The other could apply it.

But the other could do something else. He could communicate verbally and in writing. He could write. This means that he could do more than what his 24-hours per day allow him, because he can direct others and communicate to them in an effective manner, leveraging his time and delivering to his employer far more value than the other, smarter guy who was a bit shy, self-conscious, and not a good communicator. Consequently, this guy, though less of an engineer, had a far more important (and high-paying) job directing (by communicating) other engineers.

The human condition is such that we have little choice but to communicate in some fashion. Those who do it the best, and the most, get ahead of those who don’t. It’s just that simple. If you can’t communicate, you can’t compete with someone who can. They will run circles around you.

Alright. I have two unusually bright and intelligent nephews. I’m not just saying that. These two brothers — only a couple of years apart — are just different in terms of smarts. One’s a little geeky (in the sweetest way), and one’s salt-of-the-Earth, but both are smart as whips. I could keep you reading all day just describing the things that used to come out of their mouths at the age of 4 and 5.

At the same time, I’ve been prodding the both of them to write. It’s of critical importance. Today, I get an email from Tim, the older of the two.

Hi, it’s Tim.  I remember when you said that I should start writing to improve my skills in this area so I was wondering if you if you could please send me an e-mail telling me how I can start a blog like yours.  One of my favorite things to do is to discuss politics, so I’m thinking of doing this so I can voice my opinion while practicing my writing about something for which I have deep passion.  Thank you very much.

I’d call that a start, and it warms my heart to no end.


the next thing I write will be that email. I think Google/Blogger ought to suit you just fine.

Now, what you want to write is completely up in the air. I don’t write fiction. I haven’t even taken a serious stab at it, though I do have the desire to try my had at some short stories someday. From my perspective, it’s magnitudes more difficult — as it includes many more elements than does non-fiction, opinion, or technical writing. I’d say that if you can competently write fiction, then you can write anything. The converse is not necessarily true. But it’s up to you, and if you were to have a passion for writing fiction (difficult), that would probably end up better for you than writing non-fiction (less difficult) if you don’t care for writing it. At your stage of formation, the important thing is to write about something.

An aside; in college I knew I kinda liked to write, but didn’t have much experience at it. By that time, I’d read quite a lot of fiction, but mostly non-fiction — and a lot of the non-fiction was things like auto mags, science mags, and books on amateur cosmology and physics. There was a required course for my business degree: Technical Report Writing. The funny thing is that I didn’t think a lot about the course, or give it an unusual effort, but I was pulling down almost effortless ‘A’s on all the reports. And then for the grand finale, I wrote a large report on the Navy’s new (in 1984!) F/A-18. I was an NROTC Midshipman, so I had access to lots of unclassified information and I wrote a report. Another ‘A’ with raving nice comments from the professor. He really liked my heavy use of (pre-defined) acronyms. Hey, it was a technical report, and what’s a technical report without copious use of acronyms?

Well, perhaps the professor was off his rocker for flattering me as he did, but I think that experience is what really solidified my lifelong passion to write. There will come a time in like when it’s time to stop seeking approval, but when you’re being educated, it’s an essential part of gaining the confidence that leads to competence.

But for you? Just write. Write about whatever you want to write about, because that’s the only thing that will keep you at it. You’ll need to read a lot, too. I look at it this way: I can study how to write, or I can read and kinda get it by "osmosis." Hell, I don’t know, Tim, but it seems to work. And I don’t overly worry about meticulously correct grammar and structure either. It’s the words you use. String them together and punctuate them in your own developed style. That’s what I do, 90% of the time. Just make sure it’s good. Read what you write over and over. Edit it continuously. Some may not realize this, but I edit blog posts that are already published, and on the longer, more complex posts. sometimes a dozen edits over time. If it’s an edit for style, I just change and republish. If it’s a factual element or correction, then integrity demands that I post a correction or update.

Alright, then. Get to it, and email me something. I don’t want you to be tentative about it, so after this, I’ll only talk about it here if you want me to. But if you email me something really sensational, I might publish it anyway. No firm deals.

Differentiation, Not Separation; Integration, Not Dichotomization

[An email out. Just another in a discussion going back years.]


> "They are simply abstracts of reality that you and others have
> come up with." This is the post-modern idea that there is no truth.

On the contrary. Truth is real and absolute. Nonetheless, all concepts are abstractions. You understand this; recall the "dissecting a brain to find ideas" analogy. You can’t dissect it and find truth, either.

I’m not saying there’s no truth. I’m saying that an integrated abstract model of reality (existence / body / mind / consciousness) is closer to the truth than a dualist abstract model (two sides of reality). The truth is that if you are looking for a philosophy in which to live life as a natural human being, then it ought to integrate body and mind, not separate it.

In my view, this is the primary source of your frustration (and your book is filled with frustration and hand-wringing).

In the hierarchical, authoritarian civilization in which humanity arose, the dualist approach was probably reasonably suited. But today’s technology — a natural outgrowth of man acting naturally — is ushering in decentralization, rejection of say-so authority, individualism, free agency. In short, people are less constrained by guilt and are going and forming their own complex values systems without much regard to tradition, ritual, antiquity, etc.

You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. People don’t regard life as serving material pleasures or serving spiritual ones, as an almost mutually exclusive mandate. They want both, and they are going to have it. We are in a transition, and what’s going to come out of it is not the collapse of spiritual values to the material, but rather, an uplifting of material values to the spiritual — but the spiritual as primarily defined individually or in small groups. Spirituality is going to be as simple as the creation and sharing of values between individuals who place that [whatever] at a high value. It can even be something material, primarily pleasurable, wholly spiritual, or some combination and it can serve as the foundation of spiritual communion.

Mark my words. There’s some way yet to go, but this is the destiny of humanity. In the process, dualism will be left in the dust. I’m certain of it. And good riddance.

> I don’t think you are cut out for esoterism.  If the WIE path
> is helpful to you, follow it.

I don’t follow, P. I’m just arrogant enough to suffer the illusion that I can choose my own values and act upon my own authority without a following-like regard for purported wisdoms. I will be the judge, for me, of what’s wise counsel and what’s not.

But I also understand the necessity of being just humble enough to realize that I don’t come close to knowing it all. I know what I know, but it’s not all, or enough. And so I continue to seek. But, there is a profound difference from the notion of following. I seek not something to follow, but to integrate. Get that, P: integrate. It is not a matter of which system is right, which is wrong; it’s what elements and gems can be integrated into one’s own path of one’s own making.

There is also a profound difference of perspective. I love humanity; I love the progress it has made and I consider that progress wonderful. I’m a worshiper of man, P., and my standard of value is my sense of what I envision as the ideal man. Such an ideal includes core virtues such as pride, accomplishment, individuality, productivity, guiltlessness, benevolence towards innocence. My heroes are those who have lifted mankind on a material level. I regard most religious traditions as fundamentally parasitic — authoritarian structures that conjure and propagate false illusions in order to foist guilt upon the unsuspecting masses in the never-ending attempt to escape the (body-mind) integrated effort required to produce objective values for survival and the pursuit of happiness.

> Somehow, you need to escape from the flat reality that
> defines the modern worldview.

Well, that seems to be your catch-all assessment for just about everything you see as wrong with the world. Don’t worry. I have them too. A little advice: stop and evaluate such catch-alls from time-to-time to see if they still reflect truth, in your honest assessment.

I’ve said this before: it’s too simple; too pat. I don’t personally know a single person who doesn’t have and act upon spiritual concerns or higher values. Oh, I know there are some, but it’s a red herring. I also know that people are unbalanced. I tend to agree with you about balance, but from an integrated and not a separated perspective. I believe — because it is my personal experience — that people can experience spiritual uplifting through material endeavors, provided they approach them from the right perspective. Frankly, I’m forever astonished — astonished! — that you make no allowance that I can detect for any sort of spiritual-level experience that doesn’t completely exclude material concerns.

Never Going Back

Warren Meyer puts a finger on something I’ve been thinking about a lot, lately.

Unfortunately, Mr. Gore’s only goal last night was not just to rally
the TV audience to change its lifestyle.  The more important goal was
to increase the likelihood that government will compel Americans to do
what Mr. Gore wants.  And this is what makes me cringe nowadays when I
hear the term "activist."  I don’t want to cringe, because passionately
advocating for you cause, even if I disagree with it, should be part of
the rich fabric of a free society.  Unfortunately, though, at the heart
of nearly every modern activist’s agenda is compulsion — the desire to
use the coercive power of the government to force you to do something
you would not otherwise choose to do.  It is the very unusual activist
today who is not trying, whether they admit it or not, to chisel away
at individual freedom for some "higher cause."

Exactly. In just about everything I read, see, hear, discuss…there is at root an undercurrent centering on whose will gets to be imposed. The issue is very nearly never whether the will of one person or group ought to be prescribed and imposed upon others or not — only which set or mix of values to prescribe and impose, and why. Freedom, no longer a real value, is never an issue anymore. What passes for "freedom" is an illusion: it’s the prisoner’s "freedom" to choose whether go to sleep, read a book, use the toilet, or do some push-ups — all in the confines of one’s cell. And, thus, the policy-talk now and in recent years has been about "choice." Yea: a choice from their menu, not one of your own making. The entirely of the argument is: within which prison walls do you get to exercise your "freedom?"

Underlying all of it is the arrogant presumption that you know what’s best for me, or him, or her — in short — everyone. Underlying all of that is the primitive collective notion (rooted in tribalism) that people are obligated to fulfill and serve some set of "higher" values as a member of some unified body of constituent parts like family, then some ethnic group, then some religion, some neighborhood, some clan or tribe, some region, some political party, some nation. You were "born a Christian?" Oh, well, here’s the prescription for your life; what you are to serve and be. There was a time — and there still is in many parts of the world — where not following the prescription for your life handed down by privileged authorities was the equivalent of suicide.

Since such notions contemplate very nearly nothing of the quotidian life of modern man, such perennial notions are primitive, though certainly understandable. It’s equally understandable that so many today lament and wring hands over what is an equally natural pushing back by people who, like me, unequivocally reject the notion that you have the slightest authority to tell me what my "highest values" — or anyone’s — ought to be. The mechanism of guilt as a means of influence is slipping away. Ever so slightly, still, but it is slipping away.

And do you know what the good part is? The good part is that this antagonism isn’t going away. All you busy-bodies and worry-warts are fighting a losing battle in my estimation. I don’t know how long it will take, but that cat’s already out of the bag, and few who have ever tasted the guiltless freedom and authority to choose their own values — with no consideration whatsoever to the arbitrary demands of anyone else — are ever going back. This is something — really — far more profound than the (important) freedom to produce and trade, around which the debate is primarily focussed. I’m talking about looking at a whole Universe, and without the slightest sense of foreboding or guilt, freely picking your own values for your own sake to begin with — without a single thought to any sort of obligation, tradition, custom, or belief you don’t freely and enthusiastically embrace.

Hell…daily…even fewer are paying attention to you. Why should they? What do you offer? Listen: if all of your so-great ancient traditions — traditions that arise from contemplation by men who didn’t even have the luxury of toilet paper — can’t compete with an iPod, color TV, xBox, or dreams of a guy’s first car and his first date, how terribly great can they be? Oh, that’s right; the dichotomy again. Such "profound" values are of a "different part" of reality (and thus oh-so-conveniently insulated) to compare them to — so-called — "material" values that, somehow, seem to offer lots of people more of what they desire.

But I also don’t mean to be mean. I fully understand that ideas exist that are crucially important for human beings to apprehend, and on the surface, they often don’t seem appealing or all that important, especially to the young and unformed.

Well, I’ve got news for you: the world is a changin’ and it’s a changin’ faster and faster, and if you want to get your ideas across, then you really, ultimately, have no choice but to compete with the iPod, or, in some years hence, a fully 3-D virtual-reality environment or whatever happens to be happnin’.

It aint gettin’ any easier. It’s going to get harder; much harder.

Thankfully, I have no real desire to participate. See, I really care not if everyone or everything is going to hell or not by your standard of values and I sense that more and more people are taking life at the same stride. Sure, I’m perplexed by how so many lead what I consider meaningless and shallow lives, by my particular values. But I’ll tell you something: I have one hell of a lot less fear surrounding their choices in values than I do in the propensity of certain others to impose theirs on me.

And before you get started: make whatever case you want that certain values chosen by some are destroying this, that, and the other thing. I get that there’s a grain of valid concern here and there, but mostly, it’s just more fire & brimstone preaching, same as it ever was.

Your Government

Your government. Your government on drugs.

“Liberty” vs. Liberty

Got it?

It was less than a year ago that Virginia lawmakers admirably outlawed red light cameras, citing–believe it or not–"liberty" as their reason.

How fleeting liberty can be.  Yesterday, the state senate gave the okay to traffic cameras.

This is the sort "liberty" most everyone deals with. This is the sort of "liberty" you exercise, dear voter, every time you cast. Your "liberty" goes only so far as the next election cycle or legislative session, where it is thereby held for ransom.

Real liberty is a recognition of a natural human condition which no man, majority of voters, legislature or executive has a moral right to mess with. It is for this basic and simple reason that governments are immoral at all levels — and so are most of its voting subjects.

Kill the Dog

Get your kicks. We’ll, I can’t argue that it’s the same as murdering a human being.

It’s not.

On the other hand, what it is is the destruction of a highly prized value; a value that someone has pursued, acquired, nurtured, loved, admired, enjoyed, and reflected upon countless times.

We don’t have kids. We have dogs, and I’d not presume in a million years to assert to someone that our dogs are on any level commensurate with their children. Still, such logic doesn’t begin to penetrate the wall of loss and rage I would personally feel if my values were dealt with in such a cavalier manner — just so that someone of G.I. fashion can get their jollies.

Fuck them all to hell. My hate and loathing for such "people" — every single one — knows no bounds.

Kind of a Mess

If you can get through the maze of this post by Balko, here’s really the only thing that comes close to the point.

Medved is also misguided in
stating that for one to subscribe to natural rights theory, one must
believe those rights are conferred by a deity.  Kant most famously
arrived at natural rights theory without acknowledging a creator.  But
even Locke, while not a deist, showed that one could arrive at natural
rights through reason, not religious faith in the idea that innate
rights have to come from a divinity.

It’s simple. Really. You choose your own values, right? Stop and think about it. Right? Do you perceive that capacity in other people? You do, right? Well, if you do, and they do, then it’s a natural attribute of the human condition, right? Note emphasis on natural.

That’s all there is to it. Really. The fact that you can’t tread on others and they can’t tread on you in pursuing your all’s various values is simply a logical consequence of non-contradiction.

We’re done here.

Well. That’s Cool.

It seemed a bit uncharacteristic of him, so one morning when I opened my email to find this, I thought it might be in my interest to pay attention. So I did; and it was.


You can see how nicely it fits in one hand, and all operation is with the thumb. Here’s the Sanyo Digital Movie C40 roundup & specs. To sum it up, though, this shoots amazing 640×480 video at 30 frames per second. Still images are 4-5 mega-pixel, and it has 6x optical zoom. Best of all, no tape, no mini-DVD, and no HDD. It used an SD memory card; 2 gigs goes for about 40 bucks, and I believe they have 4 gig cards now. At max quality, it’ll shoot better than an hour of video. Cool feature: it will shoot beautiful, hi-res stills while shooting video. Just press the button. Here’s a photo taken this morning, using the built-in flash.


Here’s a video I uploaded to YouTube this morning, documenting our arrival in Arnold, CA, our second home, after a 500-mile, 8-hr-on-the-button (calculate my average speed) trip from the San Diego area yesterday. Now, the first thing I notice about that video is that the quality is way turned down from what I shot. I’d love to show it to you here, but it’s an 86 Meg file, and that would eat up just too much storage.

But here’s a short one that’s only 21 Megs of the snow falling this morning, outside the front door of the cabin. If your system doesn’t pick up the .mp4 extension type, it’s Quicktime that’ll play it in this native form (it comes off the camera like this — no pain-in-the-ass capture and convert required). Now, to get an idea of the quality difference, here’s the same thing after getting YouTubed.

More stuff to come, and when I get home, I’ll snap a picture of the Sony Camcorder and the Kodac still camera that this is replacing.

Oh…200 bucks.

Good Doggie News

Since the fire and strife of New Year’s day and since, we’ve been concerned not only about Dave & Nancy, but about their dogs. Especially Ruby, our Rotor‘s only offspring. There’s a small "issue" with Ruby’s stance, so Nancy decided she would not be shown or bred, and decided to find a good home. Very picky, these pros.

Bea & I went to the Horseman’s Association fund-raiser for Dave & Nancy the other night. I came prepared to write a check for Ruby in an amount substantially more than the actual price she was asking, and then we would be sure of finding a nice home — especially one close to ours. But Nancy had already found someone, just over in Santa Cruz, and everything sounded good. That I was offering double the price had not the slightest thing to do with anything. First, Nancy had already made a deal, and second, she knew she had found a good home and was very comfortable about it. Well, I wrote the check anyway, talked Nancy into taking it for their general needs, and we carried on.

So, now we have news; documented here, here, here, here, here, and here. Obviously, Ruby is not only cared for, but lavished.

And that’s good news.

The Ethics of Omelet Making

I’m starting to think "how
many more people have to die" is the wrong question. I fear that
pondering how many of these deaths it will take to spur people into
seeing the perversity of our drug laws and their enforcement, and
demanding reform is the wrong way to look at it. I’m starting to think
that we’re now moving in the other direction — that these stories
fatigue people. Numb them. Each one gets a bit less outrageous than the
one before.

If that’s true, how sad. How incredibly fucking sad if the idea of a
17-year-old kid getting gunned down in his own bed in the name of
preventing people from getting high is no longer capable of making us
angry. And how incredibly fucking scary.

Radley’s right, of course. Still, I don’t know how to keep from wondering. It’s a simple recognition of a manifest fact: a lot more innocent people are going to be murdered by their government in the "War on Drugs."

And then one day, it’ll stop, but only to be replaced by the next "social crisis" that’s used to justify kicking down people’s doors while they sleep, and murdering those who don’t take that invasion in the precisely "correct manner" in the eyes of the marauders.

Once again, it will all be conducted under the veil of "unfortunate tragedies," "complete investigations" ("can’t comment: investigation, dontchaknow"), the very occasional prosecution and hand-slapping of the most egregious, and admonitions that it’s the "sad price we pay" for maintaining social order.

You know the story: to make the omelet (of civil order), you’ve got to break a few eggs (murder a few innocents).

The "War on Drugs" will end when it’s good any ready to end — maybe when enough stupid, scared, malicious AARP old fucks are dead. Or, when people no longer see drug prohibition as a "value" worth pursuing.

That’s when kiddie-porn — or whatever — becomes the Next Great Threat, and we again have something with which to occupy our SWAT teams and Cops shows on the Teevee. Poor 17-yr-old Daniel Castillo could just as easily have been shot in the face a couple of feet away from his sister and 1-yr-old niece had the murderers been executing a "warrant" for porno, guns, "contraband" (uh…no tax stamp) smokes or booze — or any of a hundred other things.

You know what I think the root of it is? I think there are tens of millions of "citizens" who love being citizens, and who love the idea of a sovereign authority. Nothing quite says "I love you," from State to citizen, like dead bodies. An "acceptable" number of innocents is just the unavoidable cost in pursuit of the "greater value."

The value being pursued –acted for — by most everyone, is domination by authority. Used to be the Church, now it’s the State, and the War on Drugs and the next thing, and the next, will all just be minor acts in that overall play.

If people ever value freedom and independence in a non-contradictory way, then things will change from the bottom up. Until then, it’s all just remodeling and window dressing along the march of time.


We’re outta here. Just about to load the X5 and split for SoCal, San Diego area, to visit the wife’s parents for a few days. Then it’s right back north, over the Grapevine and up 99 all the way to Stockton, heading east on 4 to finish out the week and next weekend at the cabin.

But I’ll be in the loop mosta the time.

PoP! Goes My Heart

Kicking and screaming. That’s right; when my wife drug me out to see Music and Lyrics on Friday evening. Truthfully, other that those awful Bridget Jones roles, I like Hugh Grant. Yea, he’s stuck in a genre, alright, but at least he pulls off the formula quite well and always manages a few lines that just crack me up. I really have no idea if others find them as funny as I do.

So, he’s this washed up 80’s pop star (boy band) working the typical gigs for someone who didn’t figure out how to parlay his money into something else before it was gone. Then comes the big break, and he has an opportunity to write the musical score for the then current pop super-star. And, so, in the unlikely scenario, he’s working in his apartment with this "existentialist" lyricist when the "plant lady" (Dew Barrymore) starts humming out lyrics. Quite uncharacteristically for a film of this sort (ha-ha), before you know it, Hugh and Drew have teamed up and are writing the hoped-for new-big-hit together.

But all this is laced through the story of Hugh’s real life as a washed up 80’s pop star, and so you get some funny lines. This one; a narrative interlude to a song performed at some sort of 80s high-school reunion, with portly 40-year-old women packed against the stage, screaming.

"Tell me the truth, ladies. Are my pants too tight?"

[More screaming] Funny.

Of course, Drew is not without her history either. There’s a new best seller by a literary professor that tells the story of a sort of dysfunctional love affair. Yep, you guessed it. Drew is the fictional character. And so, in the most unlikely of possible scenarios, Hugh and Drew are in a restaurant celebrating their collaborative success, when she spots Mr. Professor at the bar with some friends.

Distraught, she heads off to the powder room, and in a never-before-seen act on film, Hugh follows her in. Of course, she’s had a whole speech prepared for over a year, for just this sort of inevitable confrontation. Hugh encourages her to go confront the man and give her speech. But she’s getting cold feet, whch is when we get one of the other lines that just cracked me up.

"Look; you have to do this. Everyone waits their whole life to run into an ex-lover when things are going really good."

Ha! Anyway, to give you an idea of the sort of parody this films aims to achieve (and succeeds, I think), I give you the opening to the film, PoP! Goes My Heart, which is a flashback to an 80s number one hit. Look for Hugh in makeup and hairdo, and see if this doesn’t just make you laugh your ass off.

The God in the Machine is You

Without citing a bunch of past posts, I’ve been on a bit of a quest, lately, to investigate some of the Eastern religious traditions. I still am — but increasingly as a skeptic and less as an honest inquirer. That’s inevitable; once you’re informed enough to begin making honest judgments, you do. There are still interesting aspects I haven’t fleshed out, and this quest is driven by a couple of things. First, I see a lot of things I like from some of the new breed of businesspeople, many of whom cite interest in Eastern traditions, and second, I prefer to focus on what we can actually choose to do and accomplish, rather than on merely what is our right not to have done to us. That may perhaps just be a difference in perspective and attitude, but I think it’s a big one. The following is an email out to this author, and concerns discussions over months and years centering on this page and proceeding forward through the chain of eight short pages, which should be read for background.


I don’t think that he, I, or any of us are "confusing consciousness with quantity." We’re just saying — correctly, I think — that consciousness is required to make sense of both quantity and quality. Most importantly, it’s what integrates the two.

I believe the various dichotomies you propose, though perhaps useful from the standpoint of that very thing — breaking reality into pieces to be understood — are but models. It is consciousness that must artificially organize reality into a mass of percepts and then reassemble it all, apprehend it all, and re-integrate it all into a hierarchy of concepts, and it does so in ways that are above and beyond what reality would be without consciousness.

[Read more…]


Well, that’s a "fine title," after mulling over various alternatives all afternoon of what to call this latest apparent outrage.

Daniel Castillo Sr. said his son, Daniel Jr., was awakened by pleas
from the teen’s sister asking officers not to shoot her in the Tuesday
morning incident, during which law enforcement agencies were executing
a narcotics search warrant. […]

The elder Castillo said his son was awakened by the pleas of his
20-year-old sister, Ashley. When the younger Castillo turned toward
Falks, he said, the officer shot him in the face.

"My son heard her say, ‘Don’t shoot.’ He got up to see what was going on," the elder Castillo said.

The teen’s sister was with her 1-year-old when Falks burst into the bedroom, the elder Castillo said.

Updates here, here, here, and here.

I am immediately reminded of a simple, cut-to-the-bone truth from a different case, but with clear application here.

The most important fact in the thing from where I sit is that Miss Johnston is dead, and she shouldn’t be.

What’s left to say? Even if Castillo had drugs, or even if he had a gun at the ready, ought he be dead? Is that what you would judge; is that what you would conclude? Imagine waking up to your sister’s cry for help, and before you can even get a grip on waking reality, you’re gone.


I don’t know what it’s going to take to end this institutionalized insanity; I just know that it will end. How many more supertankers of innocent blood it’ll take to wash it away is a question for which I have no answer.

Damn them to hell.

Update: Billy says all that I was too tired to say. And better than I would have, anyhow.

$7 Million Stolen from The Rolling Stones

That’s really the whole essence of this story, via email from my brother Stacy.

The Rolling Stones has taken advantage of the
Netherlands tax structures for the past 20 years, with the help of
Dutch accountant Johannes Favie, who runs Promogroup, a financial
consulting firm. Promogroup has helped the Rolling Stones pay just over
$7 million in taxes on earnings of $450 million over the past two
decades. In 2005, the rockers paid a tax rate of 1.6 percent on
earnings of $172 million.

Anyone is welcome to slice it and dice it any way they may wish, but at the end of the day, you can’t claim that the Stones were not compelled, by force — by threat the destruction of their grand enterprise and loss of their freedom — to pay that $7 million. That’s a fact, and that fact has very clear implications.

Oh, I’m quite sure they don’t begrudge it at all. They’re probably rather pleased about it. At U.S. corporate tax rates of 35%, they would have paid around $160 million in taxes most other places. In a sense, then, it could be argued that they paid the Netherlands $7 million dollars to protect them from having $160 million stolen. Defense against theft and aggression isn’t cheap, especially when the thieves are some of the largest nation-states on the planet.

…And consider this: suppose the Rolling
Stones, or any of the other mega-productive individuals or groups was
not obligated to pay a single dime. Out of a half-billion dollars, how
much do you suppose they might willingly give to pay for civil order,
if only asked nicely? Think it might just be a bit more than $7 million
out of half a billion?

Well, good for them, and good for all the others the article cites. The rest of you can fucking choke on your "tax revenues," you worthless, envious fucks. I haven’t got a second’s use for any fuck, anywhere, that can’t acknowledge the plain fact of theft.

Then, and Now



In the second one, that guy is holding a spin, which is what you have to do in a flex wing. Hold it. Relax, and they will auto-recover. The rest is a series of "wangs."


It’s said that it’s only through adversity that we grow to new levels, learn new things, find and explore new opportunities; and I believe it. In fact, I would say that I can think of no other attribute of the human condition that I count as more true.

"What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger."

There are some kinds of adversity in life that one ought to be left to bear alone, especially in youth, where learning the responsibility of living as in independent human being is paramount. Yet there are other times, when adversity visits others, friends and loved ones, where we ourselves are presented with an opportunity to learn a thing or two about life.

My wife Bea got the email hours after it happened on New Year’s day. Dave’s & Nacy’s ranch house had burned to the ground. We were at the cabin (itself damaged in a fire three years ago), in Arnold, four hours away. Details were sketchy, of course, and that was principally due to the email coming from a friend, not Dave & Nancy themselves. They were OK; devastated, but OK. And the news: one of the dogs had been lost. This was distressing, for, you see, we met Dave & Nancy through the rather small American Rat Terrier community locally. While Wild Oak Ranch is their principal business on site, they breed, socialize, train and show rat terriers as well. It was almost a year ago that our Rotor was bred with their Porsche, the resultant litter being a single female, nearly identical to Rotor in looks, mannerism, and disposition. Well, here’s Ruby. Compare #’s 18 and 26 to get an idea of what I mean.

It took two days to find out that it wasn’t Ruby that had been lost. Though our wishes were certainly with Dave & Nancy, it wasn’t pleasant wondering about Ruby’s fate. The only problem is, Bea & I love all of those dogs. Learning that it was Cookie, the baby, didn’t turn out to be any relief. She was one of the friendliest and lovable puppies I’d ever encountered.

Dave & Nancy’s adversity — which they will survive and triumph over — has given Bea, myself, and many, many of their friends the opportunity to feel a profound sense of what it means to be a human being — not just in sentiment, but in deed and action. When those unfortunate times come along, don’t miss the chance to help make a difference.


I would like to note that Obama is wrong, Malkin is wrong, and Balko is wrong.

They’re all wrong, and so are you, and everyone else pretentious enough to assert that the loss of a serviceman’s life in Iraq, or anywhere else, is yours to value or disvalue in contradiction to that serviceman’s own proclamation. Those lives aren’t yours. What those servicemen do or do not themselves value may correspond in ways to what you value, or don’t, but your values don’t trump theirs when the manner in which they see to them doesn’t jive with how you exercise yours.

If a serviceman loses his life in a conflict he signed up for, and considers it a worthy pursuit of his values, or doesn’t, then I believe him. So should you, and that ought to be the end if it.

Likewise, if you’re not over there yourself, but could be, I presume that it’s not a value you wish to pursue at the risk of your own life. And I’m fine with that. You owe me nothing, either way. Neither do they.

Children At Play

Or, "Your Tax Dollars At Work;" take your pick. Or choose both.

Dear [the mayor] shouted: "She hit her right in the eye! Stop that woman from
leaving the room! She struck the woman. She should be arrested. This is
unbelievable. … We’re going to call a doctor."

Judge for yourself:

Now, what part of that scene doesn’t look like kiddies in a playground? And these are some of the same kinds of people you get all worked up about every two years as you can’t get your ass to the voting booth fast enough.

I guess I just expect too much from people who consider themselves subjects of a city, county, and state; citizens of a federal government; and children of a mythical Santa-Claus god. Ultimately, at some level, there’s always someone for you to by a cryin’ and a wailin’ to, isn’t there?


Moving Forward

Richard Dawkins has penned a no-pulled-punches Forward to Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation, UK edition.

More importantly, the world’s only superpower is close to domination
by electors who believe the entire universe began after the
domestication of the dog, and believe that they will be personally
‘raptured’ up to heaven within their own lifetime, followed by an
Armageddon welcomed as harbinger of the Second Coming. Even from this
side of the Atlantic, Sam Harris’s phrase, ‘moral and intellectual
emergency’ begins to look like an understatement.

I began by saying that Sam Harris doesn’t mess about. One of his
points is that none of us can afford to. Letter to a Christian Nation
will stir you. Whether it stirs you to defensive or offensive action,
it will not leave you unchanged. Read it if it is the last thing you
do. And hope that it won’t be.

If it’s true, as I suspect, that the world is a changin’, some of it even for the good, I’m at least glad to witness it.

To be relatively sure, if we survive, the sort of fervent and literal religious belief that Dawkins and Harris are aggressively attacking will be seen, in a thousand years, no differently than we would regard belief in Zeus today. Can you imagine that? Well, if you can, then the only real variable is time. There’s nothing preventing such change within a matter of years.

Will it matter? I don’t know. One god tends to be replaced with another. But I have to believe that overcoming any falsehood is a good thing. What comes after will just have to be dealt with then.