Monthly Archives: November 2011

In Hard Economic Times, We Must Reevaluate Our System

Many people are suffering and hard off right now… I still believe in the general principles of Capitalism, but with that, it must be said that I also believe in the principles of basic Social Services for all people and some superior organizational help from government & other institutions to ‘keep us keeping on.’ I am frustrated with some of the kinks in the government system and also in the scams that I have heard private institutions running (many targeting students and telling them ‘come to our grad school and get a guaranteed job and/or scholarship,’ when this was never the actual intent but it was rather to make $$$).

People, keep working hard to find decent jobs and seek benefits as you need them — there is no shame in receiving help from the government. Also, if you find a miserable job, I hope you are not having your boss treating you like scum and lording it over your head that ‘you should just be happy that you have a job,’ as I know some people are in these circumstances.

One of the reasons I tacitly support some aspects of Occupy Wall Street is not so different than my tacit support of the Tea Party Movement. Oddly, both groups have some similar demands for accountability with the government — and then both groups also have sidebar ideologies that demand things I cannot support (whether it is the far leftism within Occupy or the far rightism within the Tea Party).

But there does seem to be some consensus: banks should be held accountable and the government which supports them should also be held responsible, and the general way we do business ought to be reformed.

A decade ago, as a younger man, I did once apply some of the basic economics I knew and thought that something like this would naturally come — we all knew, deep down, we could not export the American manufacturing jobs & all our jobs in general abroad and have it go so long without an affect. We all knew that the democratization of wealth that has proven beneficial to so many around the world would have consequences — we cannot have our cake and eat it, too. Naturally, there are some major issues with the nature of every economy. Some say this is due to ‘government intervention on principle’ (which I think is a wrong idea), and others say it is due to the fundamental nature of corporations & big business (perhaps a bit more right butnot fully)…

I have been doing a lot of thinking about it and without getting too wordy I would say that the big problem is a lack of spurring growth of real, meaningful jobs in some economies and also not enough government help & regulation given in things like benefits to people and the way we allow education, loans and universities to operate.

I am still true, largely, to the principles of Capitalism but I do think we need reform… And I am just troubled by the state of the economy, now, and I’d like to encourage people out there to vote very consciously and make their demands known through whatever means they feel is appropriate. I encourage everyone to read more and discuss it more, and educate themselves (as I am attempting to do)… Every nation has a lot of hard decisions to make right now.

So let’s not be foolish or brass.

I am forgetting his name right now but an American professor came to our school for a symposium and he discussed a wide range of issues; in response to one of my questions he said,

“The great thing about science is that we test a hypothesis and we can go back and adapt, change, and find out what is best and seek truth. We are not limited to principles that we believe in and trying to make those work — that is not the nature of science. Rather, politics and economics, like science, should be willing to admit mistakes and change when they fail to be beneficial.”

I think these paraphrased words are very relevant right now.

Oiling Guns & Awaiting 31 DEC 2011

Nobel Peace Prize winner Pres. Obama of the United States campaigned as a man of peace, righting the wrongs of the Bush administration that haughtily would fight for basic human rights and an end to Hussein’s enlightened dictatorship. It is official that all US troops have been ordered to withdraw by 31 December, 2011…

And now the fun begins.

The Iranians have allegedly been funding the Shi’ite militias loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr; licking their  lips, the young Shi’ites can spend the rest of 2011 playing backgammon and drinking coffee — oiling a few guns, praying over a few IEDs. The end is near and their fight will soon be refreshed.

The Christians & Kurds are all safe in northern Iraq hoping that somehow, someway al-Maliki and the Iraqi government will maintain their tenuous grip on democracy — hoping against all hopes that the withdrawal promised by the Nobel Prize winner will mean ‘peace.’

Inside of this is the comical irony — the idea that a man who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his stances on issues such as Iraq will actually fulfill some lasting peace & prosperity in the country, but behind this all is the certainty that sectarian violence will erupt and that perhaps in 2018 after the Shi’ite militias take full control of Baghdad we may see another Halabja massacre while Americans enjoy celebrity news about Snookie & Mike “The Situation.”

It is a profound joke — one that I was once horrified with, the idea of the light of democracy vanishing from that nation and that tens of thousands of Americans who sacrificed would have these be in vain. But a few weeks ago, after some beers & drinks and some emotional thoughts on the topic that I came to peace with the inevitable and as opposed to skepticism about democracy I came to the resolute conclusion…

The militias and Shariah law advocates were able to inflict enough casualties; the “humanitarians” were able to convince us of the horrors of war and the necessity of peace, and in so doing have set us up for more generations of pain & bloodshed on Iraqi lands.

On New Years Day, 2011, the whole process starts all over again. More blood, more death; more violence between rival sects and ethnic and tribal groups. Islamic courts. Institutionalized poverty.

If we’ve learned anything about the nature of Islamism it is that the ‘goal’ apparently is not the development of the nation but the retaining of perceived Islamic purity (a grave distortion of what that should be, one that makes moderate Muslims shiver) and the interest of self-benefit and cronyism through politics.  It can hardly be called ‘politics’ because it more closely resembled strongman governance with no hint of actual progress. It is theocratic despotism… But even then, despots can have concepts of justice and development. There were dictators and leaders with set goals on how they should walk down the path to the advancement of their nations but in these “governments” there is no such idea.

Rather, their governments ought to be regarded as Feudal, Tribal states with loose [in]justice systems.

We must come to peace with the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize recipient won his prize not for the establishment of peace but for the assurance of civil war in Iraq. Objective historians hundreds of years from now will look at this with 20/20 vision and will gladly write, “And this is why we moved beyond concepts of blind faith in democracy & humanistic approaches to solving problems; this was the moment that people got just a little bit more enlightened as to the nature of humans themselves and realized that talking about peace & human rights in Washington, London, Paris and the Hague does not mean anything unless there are troops on the ground in Iraq.”

This is just another tragic story in the bloody history of the Human Race.

The Elevation Of Beauty Through Foreign Consideration (1)

From the time that I was able to think independently I was very concerned with the state of human beings. I was especially shocked by the idea of economic division and poverty, and cultural division as well. My mother & father taught me the concept of ‘agape,’ of Universal Christian Love for all beings as a vital point of my life. It was confusing to me to hear hatred heaped upon Christianity because I was raised within a positive Christian home that never taught condemnation but rather universal love of God as a principal. For this, I am highly indebted to my parents and of course to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of which I am a Believer.If even you reject this within the context of organized religion & religious thought, there is an overwhelming consensus that we ought to love & care for others universally because it is the root of Goodness as an abstract idea in itself.

My first memories of meeting foreign people were outstanding. I was fascinated (like a child is) by differences and cultural & culturally induced intellectual differences. I am still like a child and I want to hear all about the cultural & intellectual development of foreign people because it is within our differences that we find very real similarities in which we can connect, and I truly believe that the different cultural points between us come back to certain roots that define us as human beings.It is in our differences that we actually find unifying principles because we are all humans not so different.

Humanity has always represented ‘similarity’ more than ‘difference.’ And foreign thought & ideas does not represent to me a threat to my ideas but rather an extension of my human experience. Perhaps one that I do not know through experience, but definitely one that I can understand with effort & see myself within.

I always gravitate towards that which is foreign & different, and that which strives to encompass the Human Emotion & Life within diverse contexts. This is because humanity is not an isolated experience but it is group phenomena that shows we are all one species.

Perhaps this is because as an individual human I often feel I am far away from others to some degree, as a person who never fit in perfectly within my own society, within my own ‘group of humans.’ But I also understood their positions & concepts, and sought endlessly the wider scope of context to include myself in that. Perhaps I’ve clung to what is Foreign, what is Alien, because within those other cultural perspectives I saw more clearly the universal aspects of my own individual existence & humanity.

I have always sought comfort in the foreign. I have always sought out Punk Rock & Hardcore &Metal Music because it is a venue in which different & unique people that do not fit into the norms of their societies can come together& make culture.

You Are My Everything” is the name of the punk, hardcore & metal publication that I dream about. Because these musical & cultural expressions literally are the only thing I can consider myself finding deep & profound meaning within — the ‘Everything’ being all of the outstanding people that came before me in the contexts of Punk, Hardcore & Metal, and made open to us & mee as a person cultural & intellectual expression in an accepting environment that was enthusiastic about differnet ideas.

Similar, I view the foreign cultures & ideas as being an extension of these feelings. I find my Truth in the universality of humanity, and in the foreign, and in what is unique, new to me, and also uniting of humanity. The “foreign” brings new ideas & contexts for me to enjoy & think about and more than this to see a beautiful existence of different people that, although sometimes cruel or disenfranchising as it may be, can be a testament to the human condition.

I am so happy to be a Foreigner because it allows me more freedom from prejudice than exists in my own country; prejudice & judgment that exists about what it means to be an American or a North Dakotan. I do not have to justify or conform abroad because as a foreigner I am already within a different category.

And it is when I am Most Foreign that I can stand most independent.

I feel great to be a Foreigner now, because I can feel like those foreign people who can give foreign input & ideas to the growth of me. Most importantly I can give new advice & ideas to other people from the context of a Foreigner & that of a person from an alternative viewpoint — input that I find always valuable.

In the context of the “foreign,” our preconceived notions of right & wrong begin to evaporate and finally as people we seek similarity & universal grounds that define right and wrong for humanity. It is within this context that we grow most.

I predict an intellectual renaissance amongst humans now that borders are shrinking and we can come closer to one another. A renaissance in which we all respect that which is a bit alien to ourselves and people are more understanding to one another. The inevitable conclusion of Human History is Human Unity, and within that context of ‘human unity’ we can begin exploring ourselves as humans in a deeper context.

In the strange, and in the foreign, I get the deepest amount of comfort because there I see that which is similar and realize the closeness of our humanity & envision the future in a different context that is closer to my home as an individual.

The Elevation of Beauty is the destruction of the Borders & Stereotypes that made me feel uncomfortable being different and openly critized for my difference.

The Elevation of Beauty is the Love of the Foreign & seeking new ways to understand ourselves in a context greater than local limitations and within the context of a more encompassing sphere that seeks to define humanity by positive similarities found amongst our differences.

Some Of My Feelings About The ME (1)

 (This deals specifically with some of my thoughts on Israel; later I want to write about women’s rights, Kurdish people and other abused minorities, and the general foreign intervention.)

‘I really want to vent on this topic. It affected me more than I thought. After I saw a presentation where Korean students spoke so much against Israel and showed some footage of Hezbollah and in support of what amounts to Islamic extremism, I just have got very upset.

I feel very close to Israel on an intellectual & emotional level. Intellectually, it is very comfortable for me to say that Israel deserves their place, their nation; and they are a democratic society that guarantees human rights to the non-Jewish people there. They define ‘modern Republic,’ and they act with good grace. Though there are issues with land division, etc. I feel that overall Israel has more than earned its right to exist — Israel is a natural conclusion to one of the most shameful & saddest periods in human history.

Israel is justice.

The European people massacred 6 million Jews. Men, women & children. It was one of the most disgusting periods in human history. It was such a cruel period that, as a student of philosophy, I find difficulty understanding how such a thing could have occurred. It raises the basic question — are humans really capable of hurting other people like that? Of destroying people like that?

Hitler & the other scum literally had to develop new methods of killing people to divorce the executioners from the reality of what they were doing. How utterly batshit insane do you have to be to design a new system to better facilitate the massacre of humans because basic human nature would not allow for it to occur in normal human psyche?

Literally, they scientifically pushed human evil to its ultimate limits. They transcended the human capacity for evil by making a new system for genocide that divorced people from the reality of it.

How could the Jewish people not think of gathering together & creating a homeland after this absolutely evil occurrence?

If 6 million of Your Kind, of Your Nationality, were massacred so thoroughly and with such malice, you would want to permanently establish a place where you could be Safe.

They went to Israel.

And in Israel they made a Republic. They made a democratic society.

In Israel, the Jewish people guaranteed human rights to all of the non-Jewish people. Muslim? Christian? Atheist? They are there in the Knisset, alongside a Jewish majority. They are not excluded from the society and not a single right is deprived.

The Jews have shown the grace that we could not expect. Israel has never shown hatred to the German people; they’ve never shown malice towards the parties that were once upon a time their terrible executioners. They’ve defined the word ‘forgiveness.’

And that is in the Jewish tradition. When Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, he forgave them all. In the Holy Book of the Jewish People, forgiveness is a common theme.

Emotionally, I feel a lot for Israel as a democratic nation surrounded on all sides by ill will and enmity. Not only do I feel they are intellectually justified, I have had a few moments in my own life where I felt I was also surrounded by people who disliked me and had it in for me. I have felt ‘alone’ before. I have felt outnumbered before. Even though, I knew that I was right.

Emotionally, I have always felt shocking disgust at what European people did to Jewish people, and a profound sense of shame of being a Human Being that I am somehow the same race as these cruel creatures who would put one another through the grinder.

Emotionally, I’ve always felt deep inside a sense of Righteous Glory in the Jewish people coming together to establish a homeland for themselves once again where they could band together and be safe from persecution & purgings that had occurred. “Never Again” is just a phrase to most people, but when such a thing has been suffered within the living memory of a nation it takes on a whole different meaning (so I imagine.

And what ties it all together?

The Muslim woman in Israel has more rights, more freedom, than she does in other places. Same with the Muslim man.

If, the people of the Middle East had an election based only on the policies of how they would be treated and the rights they would be given by their government, without knowing I imagine the majority of the Middle East would select ‘Israeli policy.’ Certainly the women would overwhelmingly select such a society as that of Israel that guarantees their safety & free expression.

I support Israel not because I am against Palestine or against Arab people. No, never like that.

Prosperity should be enjoyed by all humans, and we should all come together to help one another — such is the most positive & natural way.

I hope that Palestinian people come together and build a positive & great society that we can all enjoy. How great would it be to think of such a bright future for them, that if you went to Israel to visit, you could also go right next door for a good & fun place.

No, I have no adverse opinion about Palestine.

I merely believe that Israel should definitely exist. No matter what.

It is not something that can ever be compromised — no, Israel will exist. The Jewish people are forgiving, just & treat the non-Jewish people in their own country better than they could be expected to be treated in most places.

When I joined the US Army I pledged to defend the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign & domestic. When I pledged to that, I pledged to a constitution of democratic society. In a very real way, I have pledged to defend democracy., to defend ‘the Republic’ as an idea.

Israel definitely meets the criteria of a democratic society, of a Republic. Israel definitely should exist as a positive & beneficial state to the Jewish people, just as I believe that it is about time that the Kurdish people have a country to call home.

… And Here Come The Meth Labs

If you want to know the face of economic recession and hopelessness it can be found in the rise of drug abuse, really, as hopeless persons in greater numbers turn to more extreme forms of escapism.

I’ve never understood drug abuse — it seems to be common sense that you would not put things in your body that were not at least fundamentally made up of natural things. If you have something that sounds like a chemical out of your Junior year science book as opposed to ‘food’ or ‘plant life’ or some varation thereof, you should be a bit scared…

I’ve also seen no purpose in exploring new ways of pushing human consciousness to its limits when it is clear that I have not even begun to exhaust all thoughts & possibilities when in my sober state, nor have I found any need to attempt transcending that which alcohol can give me…

Habitual hard narcotic use and this sort of phenomenon is shocking & appalling:

Police across the U.S. are struggling with a proliferation of busts for methamphetamine production, fueled by the rise of small but dangerous “one pot” labs.

The increasingly popular technique has largely replaced the kitchen-size meth lab with a single, two-liter soda bottle. Ingredients for a batch can easily be obtained on a single trip to a pharmacy and mixed almost anywhere. One-pot labs aren’t new, but they are spreading just as budget cuts are reducing police forces.

In Christiansburg, Va., the police department is paying thousands of dollars to clean up toxic labs. Police in Tulsa, Okla., have handled 15% more meth-lab busts so far this year than all of last year, at a time when the department is down some 70 officers. Nationally, incidents related to meth production rose above 11,000 last year, after falling sharply to around 6,000 in 2007, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

One-pot operations produce small quantities of meth at a time, law-enforcement officials say, but are toxic and highly explosive, occasionally resulting in fires and deaths. Their small scale makes them especially hard to find and stop, in part because they don’t require enough pseudoephedrine—an essential meth ingredient found in some cold medications—to run afoul of federal purchasing limits.

“They’re small, they’re mobile, they’re easy to hide,” said Cpl. Mike Griffin of the Tulsa Police Department. “As long as pseudoephedrine is available, they’re going to keep growing.”

Methamphetamine, a stimulant whose side effects include tooth loss, skin lesions and brain damage after extended abuse, induces a lengthy euphoria and is highly addictive. Some women take it as a weight-loss drug. But as they chase after one-pot labs,police fear they are neglecting bigger drug-dealing operations involving global cartels and other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin.

Since Tulsa police found the city’s first one-pot lab in late 2008, lab busts have soared, reaching 315 in 2009. So far this year, police have busted 372 labs, up from 323 in 2010.

DEA data show that the trend is similar elsewhere. In Virginia, for example, the number of labs and related sites discovered by police has been surging. In Indiana, the number last year was up 64% from 2008, at 1,213. The figures include all types of meth labs, but one-pot operations now predominate.

Wall Street Journal

Very disgusting news and we can only expect our country to worsen if the economic conditions continue to go poorly — and furthermore, if the moral hopelessness that afflicts many people continues to atrophy any sense of right and wrong that they have, trading the will to fight in a time that matters for the will to escape.

Chinese Fake Pharmaceuticals Ring Busted

This is a very cute story concerning adventures in an emerging Capitalist market… 🙂

BEIJING—Chinese police said they seized $30 million worth of counterfeit pharmaceuticals this week, as authorities work to show their commitment to a broader push to overhaul the country’s food and drug regulations.

The seizure resulted in the arrest of 114 members of a counterfeit-drug ring in the Chinese city of Anyang, in China’s central Henan province, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Monday, citing police officials. It followed a four-month investigation of fake medicine sold in the region.

China’s government frequently demonstrates its dedication to social issues by proclaiming seizures and arrests. This announcement came after a legal change in May that extended the criminal definition of counterfeit drugs to include all fake medications, not merely those that harm humans.

Counterfeit sales within China represent a risk to the numerous pharmaceutical companies, such as Roche Holding AG and Pfizer Inc., that have invested heavily over the past few years in the Chinese market and rely on it for growth. Sales of pharmaceuticals in China are expected to hit $50 billion in 2011, up from $42 billion a year earlier, according to data from market researcher IMS Health. But China is also one of the world’s largest producers of counterfeit pharmaceuticals, according to a report by the London-based International Policy Network, a libertarian-leaning think tank that focuses in part on pharmaceutical issues.

 Wall Street Journal

I cannot imagine that there are people who wold literally manufacture fake medicine and sell it to people — as people are hurt, and sick, they are literally selling people things which does not help them under the guise of it being medicine and until recently it was impossible to come down on them because it was not illegal.

I find it amazing that humans can operate like this, and that there are actually people who thought it was somehow morally acceptable to act in such a fashion…

… Cue the Libertarians telling us that ‘Capitalism would’ve done just fine without any regulation here.’ Because ‘somehow, some way’ the consumer would’ve found out and been able to take the mean, nasty recourse of ceasing to buy the product after it has done its damage duping the consumers out of loads of money.

Strawberry fields forever, Libertarians.