Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Mental & Spiritual Atrophy of Modern Existence

The way that people view premodern existence seems a bit off… People seem to view and accept every invention and contraption in modern life as saving them from some hopelessly unpleasant reality that previously existed. They like to view the amish and other communities that remain untouched by technology as a community of weirdos… People are horrified at the idea of giving up television, computers, cell phones and… Heaven forbid… Electricity.And, God knows, the idea of performing manual labor on a farm is laughable.

Who in their right mind would choose such a life?

My friend Greg Sandford once pointed out such an obvious truth to me: by making any choice at all, you are giving up all the benefits of making the other choice. People are so set on looking at solely the most apparent and easy to see benefits of televisions & cell phones and they have not bothered to critically examine the other life…

Of course, before I paint such a rosy image of premodern existence, it goes without saying that there are some major benefits of modern existence… namely, not dying from a bad fever, being able to travel and visit places far away more easily, having access to a wealth of knowledge (because that is what all the kids use the internet for, right?)… But, alas, let me paint you a picture of social existence before the modern times…

I once heard a very, very old woman tell me about what life was like ‘before television.’

When they completed their work for the day and they had eaten their dinner, conversing with one another the whole time, their family would all gather up and walk over to their neighbor’s house (or vice versa). In these days, everyone had 5+ brothers and sisters and their grandparents often lived with them… And you’d have on any given night at nearly twenty people gathered around in the yard when the weather was permitting and they’d do what people did…

They talked. They had fun out there with classic instruments, making music and singing. Other folks would be dancing to the sound. They had a repertoire of literally hundreds of games — now all nearly extinct. Guessing games; rhyming games; games they played with sticks, balls, blindfolds, buckets, ropes. Many of the card games that we play now are literally hundreds of years old. ‘Hearts’ wasn’t created by some bored dudes at summer camp… The modern variation is based off of a whole series of trump-games developed over hundreds of years in Europe. Many of the card games we play are simple compared to theirs.

It is said that on some occasions one entire village would play another entire village in an organized game or sport. In Korea, they used to even construct ships that the men would put on their backs and have children ride around on them simulating a battle against another village. We have famously heard that at some festivals in Russia they would have the young men from one village have a group fight against the young men of another village — and afterwards they would ceremoniously slap backs and get drunk.

People took playing their instruments seriously — they were some of the most expensive items people could own. They were passed down. It was a big deal to have your dad teach you how to play the fiddle — when he was dead and gone, who else would make music for the family? It was a big deal to learn how to sing and how to entertain…

From the day you were born and until the day that you died nearly the only entertainment you could expect would be from your family, your neighbors and yourself.

People would literally put on plays and they would practice the now nearly dead arts of oratory & story telling… Believe me, they were skilled & smart people and this was their artistic release. Epic poetry was not written to simply be read while lounging — it was written for people to memorize and recite dramatically. In those days, illiterate people were known to memorize things and recite them.

Some of the original Muslims were entirely illiterate… No big deal, they will just memorize the entirety of the Koran so thy don’t have to worry about reading it. It was not uncommon for illiterate Arabs to be able to recite literally hundreds of names of their ancestors. There is the legend of the former slave Wahshi ibn Harb was able to recognize a baby he had seen 40-50 years earlier, who was now a man, by the markings the man had on his feet. It is amazing to think of how the mind can function when it is not cluttered, stressed or strained but rather focuses on interpersonal relationships.

And when they were working, most people worked in the fields. They worked in nature. They plowed, they sowed, they reaped; they took care of animals that were their livelihood and would often only be slaughtered for special meals and otherwise be maintained. They saw their fields grow and come to life. They ate their labor.

Still others worked as artistans — they created difficult things with their hands. They would spend all day patiently dedicated to creating practical things… And when they were done they held something in their hands. They could look at it and know that someone was going to use this item to improve their life in some way. They also knew that the item they made could very well exist for decades after they were dead and serve a purpose. People did not make things to break in a year… things were built to last.

They didn’t just make items for money… They made items that bettered the entire community. They wanted to make great things, as artisans, because their customers were their neighbors. Their customers were their friends, their family, their community as a whole, and they could see all these people at Friday prayers at the Mosque or Sunday mass, or at the shrine to the ancestors atop the hill where they would leave out food and pray.

It was said that when one man’s crops failed his neighbors would always give them food. It wasn’t even a question — they were friends and in all likelihood this meant they would one day become family as their children may very well marry. And what if next year it was your crops that were hit particularly hard in the storm — if you didn’t help your neighbor, he wouldn’t help you.

You tried to be a good person because the rest of the community was not just your only source of entertainment, they were your insurance policy.

You tried to be a good person because these were the people who helped build the house and barn for your parents when they get married, and one day they would come together and build a house and a barn for you.

There is this idea that life was so terrible… Of course, when war came or there was a disease  or famine life could be utterly miserable. Certainly people didn’t have many freedoms — rather, they had more responsibilities and obligations towards one another.

Many people think our ancestors were somehow infinitely inferior to us… They were poor wretches, no more than slaves to the land; theirs was a joyless and somber existence and people were dropping dead as flies. They were illiterate and thus fools…

But these illiterate fools memorized stories and put on plays, played complex games & were musical. They knew how to tend wounds and they knew how to do arts and crafts. They knew how to make the land prosper…

And I’d theorize they were polite, kind and honest with one another and profoundly aware of each other’s emotions. I imagined they took great pains to please each other. I imagine they fell madly in love with one another when the time came, and would blossom with the hardships over the years. Their husbands and wives were their coworkers. They lived and died by each other’s efforts.

The idea of husbands and wives ignoring each other and ignoring their children would be ludicrous in an age where, when the day was done, there was no TV to plop down in front of.

A painting by Dario de Regoyos Y Valdes (1857-1913), entitled “Peasants Dancing.”

I imagine that while there are some shortcomings to such a time, it would be a great honor to have met these people. I think we would all learn a lot about what it means to be human and to be a social creature, and we would learn a lot about our own potential…

Our potential as fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, neighbors, friends. Our potential to work the land. Our potential to create things with our hands. Our potential to raise animals and keep them healthy. Our potential to sing, to dance, to perform in front of other people. Our potential to create new games and to excel at old ones. Our potential to memorize great stories and retell them.

While we believe that we are the most privileged people, the most gifted; the people with the best opportunities and the best resources, we have forgotten many things that are not just practical but are very human.

Modern life is atrophying much of our potential…

Our minds do not memorize things because the answers to our questions are in our devices. Our minds do not try to create new games or excel at classic, simple ones… They just sit in front of a TV or a computer. Our minds are not actively engaged in creating music or objects… they are contemplating what garbage to buy.

Our spirits no longer intermingle each evening, coming together to make music and tell stories, to make the nights come alive, but they isolate themselves in small rooms. Our spirits are not concerned with how others may feel… we do not need them so much. Our spirits grow callous — they only see a handful of people in their peer group and they often ignore everyone else.

Suicide, melancholy and sadness are the most modern of phenomena. According to the book Restraining Rage, the struggle in the classic Roman & Greek societies was never to stave off sadness and depression but to restrain oneself from being anger.

Neither the ancient Romans or Greeks had a word for ‘depression.’ They had a word for sadness, certainly, as any person would have sad events, but there was no word to describe the sapping of the soul and the crippling depression that strikes out at so many.

I heard a story from a missionary that when he told the natives he was preaching to that he knew a man who killed himself, the natives looked on in utter disbelief. They even laughed for a moment, baffled. When the gravity of the situation sank in they shook their heads in confusion and said, “No one here would ever kill themselves.”

Suicide, depression and social isolation are the gifts of the modern world.

Nowadays it seems, more often than not, we are isolated and lethargic creatures.

If you were to take pause long enough… maybe you could even feel your mind & spirit atrophying.

UK Doctors & The “Death List Bonuses”

One of the arguments often brought up against the nationalization / socialization of health care (in whole or in part) is the notion that they will demand that we put our beloved relatives on death lists… What is implied, of course, is that the lives of the average person will be shortened and that we have created a system that will undoubtedly evolve into some sort of ritualistic slaughter of the elderly (or those who are no longer productive, you can almost hear the Brave New World crowd whisper).

We now see some emotional journalism coming to us from Russia Today who bemoans the idea that UK Doctors are being given bonuses for adding people to death lists: 

General practitioners in England have been receiving £50 bonuses for placing patients on controversial ‘death lists’ in order to reduce the number of occupied hospital beds. The move is yet another tactic aimed at cutting NHS costs, UK media reported.

Each death which occurs outside an NHS hospital has been calculated to save the health system some £1,000 ($1,600) in England. On average, deaths which occur inside NHS hospitals cost the service around £3,065 (just under $5000), while those elsewhere cost £2,107 (around $3,400).

Doctors have been given bonuses for drawing up ‘end-of-life advanced care plans’ for patients they predict will die within a year.

The payments in question apparently have the intention of keeping NHS costs as low as possible.

According to documents seen by the Daily Mail on Sunday, a “key objective” of the project – which underwent a trial period in England’s east – was “to shift the place of death” away from hospitals, thus“reducing …healthcare costs.”

Written a bit differently, it would read something like… 

‘The UK seeks to put terminal cases into hospice care earlier and are giving doctors incentives to move their patients out of hospital and to more appropriate facilities. Lots of money is being spent keeping people occupying hospital beds until their inevitable demise instead of in more affordable and even more desirable locations.’

But the constantly recurring idea of death lists is brought up — something that people in the United States immediately associate with the potential evils of socialized medicine. They evoke some image of the UK Doctors hauling sick patients away and dumping them off onto moldy mattresses as waste, kicking them for good measure and laughing all the way to the bank with their death list bonus they will use to buy prostitutes & whiskey as dirty men who do dirty things are want to do.

Of course… A ‘death list’ can just as easily exist in any non-socialist hospital. As if every hospital is excited to compile a name of their patients that they can no longer provide meaningful care for, and that these death lists hang up in the break rooms as morbid odes to the evolutionary prowess of the doctors…

The article also includes some emotionally arousing lines like:

Patients on the program were required to state their preferred location of death, whether they would like to be resuscitated, and their preferred drugs for the final hours of their life.

Of course, such a thing seems absolutely repugnant to all of us sitting with wet hair in our bath robes in front of computers, or preparing to tuck in for the night and are thinking of years and years of life ahead of us… What a morbid addendum to an article implying that NHS is unloading its burden with ‘death plans’ and interrogating people on depressing topics.

And what article on ‘death plans’ would be complete without a line like this:

She [Dr Gillian Craig, a retired geriatrician] added that the program may even block the course of treatment by “closing the door on potentially life-saving hospital treatment…a doctor may not realize that, while the person appears to be dying, they actually have a reversible condition.”

Of course, on first thought this sounds vaguely relevant… but it fails to hit the mark of relevance by a long shot. Doctors inevitably make mistakes. Doctors inevitably fail. Whether the failure results in the patient dying on a hospital bed or with them dying in a hospice, death is sometimes an inevitable conclusion of a failure.

The entirety of the article is just the routine scare journalism concerning the great fear that doctors will abandon their patients and unconsciously begs our physicians to beat the dead horse — or, should I say, beat our own dead bodies…

The ‘Death List’ is not a symptom of a socialized health care system but rather is a symptom of the great advances in medical technology that seemingly have prevented us from expiring more naturally. The fact is that the option now exists to maintain people’s deteriorating conditions far beyond the point of which all quality of life has been utterly diminished and life has been reduced to a literally vegetative state for some, and a painful burden to those who have the misfortune of being entirely alert during their downward spiral.

Perhaps what we should be more scared of is not the ‘death list’ but would be any theoretical life list in which our pathetic existences are perpetuated far beyond use for the sake of an overly attached family that cannot come to terms, an existence prolonged so that a bureaucratic doctor and nursing staff can check off boxes indicating that they have fulfilled the prescribed conditions.

Death is the natural conclusion of our time on this Earth and while it is understandable to never want to die too early it should be likewise feared to die too late; hell, it should be feared to die too unnaturally, hooked up to machines functioning in place of one’s organs — a series of tubes twisting in and out of the body.

Imagine a any person of a different age viewing the room of a near deceased elderly patient; unconscious, unmoving. Hooked up to half a dozen machines and bags of fluids. All of this would inevitably appear to be something out of a horrific alien abduction or Sci-Fi hellhole.

More than dwelling on the idea that doctors are paid to look out for the well being of their patients as they round Third Base and head towards Home, we should be questioning the ethics of medical systems and the thought processes which contribute to the idea that the best answer for us as a society is to prolong the lives of the elderly as long as possible with little regard to the quality.

In some odd sense, I find myself profoundly supportive of the idea of euthanasia but in another irrevocably opposed to it… The idea of a person requesting their own death is a sad vision of suicide, certainly, but let us not forget that what has necessitated such a debate in our society is the system which allows us to prolong the living of the obviously suffering.

Perhaps what we need more than euthanasia, or ‘death lists,’ or ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ options, is the common sense required from our lawmakers to enable medical staff to allow people in advanced age to slip comfortably away. We’ve now come to such a point where our medical technology necessitates such foresight.

And dare I say: If, when the time came, my doctor helped me make decisions which rewarded me with a relaxed and dignified passing, I certainly would not mind if he had got a bonus.

Peter Schiff On US Debt: Oh Yeah, It’s Bad

A very illuminating video about US debt — the first few minutes are enough to be alarming and convince you of the size of the problem:

Basically, it appears that the US can barely afford to cover even the interest of its loans and is addicted to the grotesque practice of borrowing more & more. There is almost no chance of the US being able to pay back the principle of the debt because of this long & drawn out practice which only gets worse as the years go by.

This begs the question: why do foreign nations continue loaning to the US?

Schiff answers the question by pointing out that it is because they are surplus trade nations and, naturally, we are the consumers of their product; perhaps it is not unlike a struggling drug dealer allowing his addicts to pay what they can and settling for less simply because there isn’t any other place to unload the product.

I am no economist by any stretch but common sense seems to dictate that an individual person ought to only spend the money that they have and if they are put into a situation where they must take a loan, they should never take a loan unless they have the intention to pay it back.

If I were to take a loan from you and have zero intention of ever paying you back, what would that make me?

Now, let us say that I am a politician or lawmaker who willingly loans out its own people’s money to those whom I know will not pay us back… What sort of politician, what sort of representative of those people would I be?

It seems more clear than ever that the current financial situation between these primarily G20 nations, these so called leaders of the world is a far stretch from logical let alone responsible.

Perhaps the big question that the next generation will ask us is how did we allow for such extreme debts to accumulate and dig ourselves into such a hole? But, fortunately for the global lawmakers and politicians…

Such questions do not seem to be on the tips of the tongues of the Miley Cyrus generation… Rather, it is a situation that will be bequeathed to pinheads by pinheads.

There seems to be no viable movement to get the US out of debt (either at home or abroad) and we must merely wait for the rest of the world to try to adapt to the crisis by getting rid of the currency reserves that they have in dollars and kissing their sweet loans goodbye. Meanwhile, the US continues to vote for leaders who gladly go into debt as it does not effect them and insures that the Corporations that donate the most to them continue making products in the current economic climate… There is no end in sight.

And who do we have to thank for originating this disgraceful policy?

Take a look:

It would appear that there has been a steady increase that slowly began ballooning; my guess is that it started with the (slightly more) practical considerations of the Cold War arms race and now it is just to feed the military industrial complex or… In other words… It is driven by rote cronyism as the US government becomes an exclusive club for those who go to bat for their interests.

Of course, Obama is no different. He continues to wage war through the most expensive means possible (there was a dramatic increase in drone strikes under Obama). Naturally, he also makes changes to laws that were initially meant to keep US weaponry from falling into the wrong hands after $170 million was spent by lobbyists.

I guess the major question would be… What does any of this economic growth we have now mean if we are so far in debt?

What are we even growing towards… if we are growing in the ever looming shadow of irresponsible spending?

At this point, we all just have to throw our hands up in surrender.

Tea Partiers… Know Science (?)

The power of stereotypes are strong — especially since the internet has become a walking meme these days. I guess you just have to read:

A finding in a study on the relationship between science literacy and political ideology surprised the Yale professor behind it: Tea party members know more science than non-tea partiers.

Yale law professor Dan Kahan posted on his blog this week that he analyzed the responses of a set of more than 2,000 American adults recruited for another study and found that, on average, people who leaned liberal were more science literate than those who leaned conservative.

However, those who identified as part of the tea party movement were actually better versed in science than those who didn’t, Kahan found. The findings met the conventional threshold of statistical significance, the professor said.

Kahan wrote that not only did the findings surprise him, they embarrassed him. “I’ve got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I’d be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension,” Kahan wrote.

“But then again, I don’t know a single person who identifies with the Tea Party,” he continued. “All my impressions come from watching cable tv — & I don’t watch Fox News very often — and reading the ‘paper’ (New York Times daily, plus a variety of politics-focused internet sites like Huffington Post & Politico). I’m a little embarrassed, but mainly I’m just glad that I no longer hold this particular mistaken view.”

Politico

I have to be honest — being outside of the American political scene other than through the internet for so many years has left me a little bit ignorant of some of the pervasiveness of stereotypes or treds. For this, I am thankful.

It is also good to see anything which bucks the trend on issues that resort to gross stereotyping. It is also interesting to see that this Yale professor seems now totally convinced of his wrongness.

Even though I am conservative on many issues (and otherwise a conservative sympathizer) I was even surprised to see such results. The stereotype that the conservatives (as a whole) and the tea party (specifically) are scientifically illiterate is thoroughly pervasive.

North Korea’s Foreign Restaurant Scheme

Now you just know your government is having problems when it depends upon restaurants located in foreign countries for cash & espionage…

North Korea’s global network of state-run restaurants, most in China, are dens of espionage and sites of operations involving tens of thousands of overseas North Koreans who send the regime in Pyongyang more than $100 million in hard currency annually, according to U.S. and western intelligence officials.

In Asia alone, the U.S. government has identified 60 restaurants ranging from Nepal to Cambodia to Dandong, China — located along the Yalu River separating China from North Korea.

Additionally, North Korea has dispatched up to 40,000 guest workers abroad. The workers are forced to live in slave-like conditions and provide a large portion of their funds to the communist government, said officials who discussed intelligence on the operations on condition of anonymity.

North Korea’s restaurants have become important sources of currency. The restaurants make annual payments to Pyongyang of between $10,000 and $30,000, according to defectors from North Korea with direct knowledge.

From the 60 restaurants in Asia — including 44 in China, one each in Bangladesh, Burma, Malaysia, Nepal, Indonesia, and Laos, and five each in Cambodia and Vietnam — up to $1.8 million is remitted to Pyongyang.

Fox

These girls may even be the epic Singer-Waitress-Prostitute-Spy quadruple threat… Watch out.

It seems that the government run restaurants themselves send back $1.8 million or so and the virtually enslaved workers contribute around $100 million in hard currency… Just to illustrate the psychological grip that the north has over these victims: they do nothing to keep their money or escape even though they are across the border.

Perhaps this is because the north Korean government literally is holding their family members in an almost ransom-esque scenario: go abroad, earn money, or we put them into the work camps — which is not unlike a living death scenario of prolonged starvation and gross brainwashing.

The fact that these are also used for espionage speaks volumes as well — one could deduce that they are high class places and further one could deduce that the women who work there may very well attempt to engage in sexual activities with targets perceived as having potential worth — we do know that north Korea is not unaccustomed to the ‘Waitress-Prostitute-Spy method.’

… What a sick, strange land.

…But Can The U. S. Build A ‘De-Americanized’ World?

I saw a lovely question thrown up by Liu Chang and reiterated by Panos Mourdoukoutas and I decided to take the liberty to refine it slightly further with the hope of shedding some light on a potential angle for all of the U. S. citizens & those who have a passing interest in America which, potentially, whether you like it or not, is the entirety of the thinking world:

“As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world,” writes Liu Chang in Xinhua, China’s official news outlet. But can China build a de-Americanized world? Can China lead the global economy?

Forbes

A much bette question is not whether or not China can build a de-Americanized world — obviously, at this venture they sit with their hands tied until enough U. S. power decays to a point where they can do more than play a role greater than building infrastructure and establishing some basic economic ties… But God knows there are entire industries dedicated to insuring that no decay would happen – and perhaps dedicated to the idea that even if the American people desired a change, such a change would likewise not happen. Too much money is invested for the Will of the People to not be bent, purposefully misled or coldly ignored.

When analyzing this problem it is important to note that China seems profoundly disinterested in the brand of political imperialism that Western nations enjoy playing but far more concerned with profits. They are just here for the food & drinks — they could care less about the rhetoric. Either that or they fear the US too much to do anything but make an economic investment. For instance, 30,000 Chinese oil workers simply left during the US bombing campaign over Libya and the revolution occurred. The Chinese are not itching to get involved in a conflict — they are merely itching to get involved in some classic corporate exploitation of foreign nation’s resources… Or, to put it in a different fashion: the Chinese are satisfied with the American standard as long as America lets them eat from the same trough.

But the question most interesting to me, in light of recent events, is not whether even China or Russia or the EU, etc. can de-Americanize the world, but whether or not the American people can de-Americanize the world.

I say this simply because there seems to be a plethora of Americans who are left wing or otherwise isolationist who have become sick at the prolonged foreign conflicts and entanglements and a whole different group of more conservative people that long at the festering pop culture & Hollywood trash, toxic exports to the whole of the world, with their own sense of disbelief. Oh no, do not be offended, left wingers & isolationists: I know you are probably not listening to Miley Cyrus. But we all get the point: there certainly comes a time when a person wishes to disassociate themselves with a series of grave blunders and would rather their nation took a different directin… Perhaps a direction nothing akin to the one that it has been going down.

Dare I say that some people really wanted to vote for Obama and vote for… change. Meaningful change. As opposed to more prolonged conflict & decay.

The most interesting problem here: even if the American people were to take such an action as to begin a withdrawal, would the Military Industrial Complex, corporate interests & the NSA allow for such? … We don’t know the answer because this certainly isn’t a part of the Obama administration’s agenda.

An entire industry has been founded on the continued engagement in foreign conflicts. Blowing up millions upon millions of dollars monthly, all manufactured by contracted private agencies growing fatter by the hour… A governing body hungry for justification to reach their Federal hands into the social network databases and phone records to squeeze out more information on their taxpayers… Not to mention the corporations that exist solely to make profits off of a mindless entertainment industry that daily contributes to the collective mental crippling of the world as a whole (bread and circuses, bread and circuses).

Rather, the question that Americans should ask… and the question that non-Americans should be sympathetic towards…

Even if it was the stated goal of US citizens, could we even de-Americanize the world? 

It reminds me of the old fable about the man who built himself a large fortress to protect his loot and became so paranoid about it he would never even leave the fortress for fear of thieves. Meanwhile, others enjoyed their lives in spite of their lack of wealth while he was incapable of enjoying all of that which he had.

The US seems to be chaining themselves to their profits, to their policies, to their perceived role in the world to such an extent that we can not enjoy the fruit of our land but are rather having our hands forced to protect those who never were initially part of our dreams… The multinational corporations, the military industrial complex, the snooping Federal agents, the toxic waste of our pop culture spreading globally…

These all build a prison around us and whether you are Left or Right we have some major issues. We have become enslaved to a drawn out policy that does not serve us.

Dawkins, Pop Scientist & Celebrated Pseudointellectual, Takes Pause To Reflect on “Mild Pedophilia”

As Dawkins ages it seems he has largely been defanged — by his own inability to convince audiences of his extremist positions, by his inability to speak on Islam without falling into ethnocentric and mocking language which people of Muslim backgrounds do not find pleasant and, of course, how he is unwilling to debate leading theist intellectuals like William Lane Craig.

But having such an irascible & pugnacious Dawkins is always quick to assert often (uselessly) controversial points, has decided to shoot himself in his own foot and reveal his eerie proximity towards the head-in-ass cultural relativists (not to be confused with a more informed and polished one):

In an interview in The Times magazine on Saturday (Sept. 7), Dawkins, 72, he said he was unable to condemn what he called “the mild pedophilia” he experienced at an English school when he was a child in the 1950s.

Referring to his early days at a boarding school in Salisbury, he recalled how one of the (unnamed) masters “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts.”

He said other children in his school peer group had been molested by the same teacher but concluded: “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”

“I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,” he said.

Huffington Post

I love how, now, we have come to the point that we can equate some 18th century ignorant, racist opinions with some 1950s sexual molesting of minors…

Of course, the racial issues of the 19th and 18th centuries were disgusting in their own remark but it should be known this was a period where even one’s own countrymen of differing religious or regional affiliations were viewed with smug disdain. It was also a period defined by little education and boundless potential for warfare… The idea of a global society and people living together peacefully was patently absurd…

But, apparently, it was not so absurd for a man to fondle the genitalia of random children..?

One of the other things that Dawkins interview begins to hint at is the notion that pedophilia as a phenomenon is not so malicious. Perhaps the author of his upcoming autobiography An Appetite For wonder never received the extended and prolonged attention of this schoolmaster who molested him but he seems incredulously ignorant of the idea that this type of behavior often does not stop at sexual fondling but begins to progress towards a far greater appetite for perversion.

I also fail to see how the sexual fondling of children has ever been some culturally endorsed phenomena. We sometimes hear allegations that the ancient Greeks were a society of pederasts thigh’ing their children but when put under a microscope the evidence oft fails to manifest itself quite as some entirely provable circumstance…

And, certainly, as we are a society that hears relentlessly about pre-post-modern (does that make sense?) horrors of being a homosexual in those times, one would imagine that there was never, in actuality, some relaxed pedophilia standards.

One would think that at a time where a man could be beaten within an inch of his life for merely having consensual sex with other men that a man who would force himself into a homosexual act with an innocent child would have been held far more culpable for such actions…

Or am I missing something?

It seems there is neither a proper culturally relative context for Dawkins to argue from nor is there any seeming concern about the potential evolution of a sexual predator who operated in the midst of his school…

Regardless, we are just seeing Dawkins putting his foot into his mouth… Oh, well. Not particularly shocking.

Silk Road Shutdown & The (Silly) Founder Arrested

If you were unaware, Silk Road was essentially an online platform for people to purchase drugs that would then be sent out through the mail. It was surprisingly successful and also featured the sales of prescription drugs at reduced prices — often being sold from places like India where there was less regulation on the sale of prescription drugs.

The manhunt ended with the arrest of an unlikely suspect: Ross William Ulbricht, a 29-year-old former physics student from San Francisco.

Prosecutors on Wednesday described Ulbricht as a criminal mastermind who built an illegal drug empire that they estimated had $1.2 billion in sales over the last three years, earning him $80 million. Silk Road was the drug world’s equivalent of EBay, acting as a matchmaker between dealers and buyers worldwide.

Authorities allege that the wrongdoing went far beyond narcotics. The site was also a marketplace for firearms, ammunition and computer hacking services. And Ulbricht was accused in separate complaints of paying for the attempted murders of two business associates who he believed had crossed him.

The article (Los Angeles Times, from the business secton; how witty) goes on to say that he had paid around $80,000 to allegedly have at least one of these people killed — quite a large price. This is also where it goes a bit away from the folk hero salesman who fueled the daft police for three years to give he people what they wanted and we start to see this person as the ruthless scum they apparently were.

Not to mention, $1.2 billion is an enormous amount and him now possessing $80,000,000 of it… Amazing, to say the least.

The website required users to install special software that concealed their identity and location. That made it difficult for authorities to determine who was behind Silk Road, and helped keep the website going.

The special software is TOR, ‘The Onion Router.’ Essentially, it bounces your IP through dozens of other people’s IP to make the original user untraceable. Of course, there are some ways for the government to still track people involved but you can bother doing that reading elsewhere.

Rather, let us look a a funny quotation from the article:

In an Internet interview, he described a childhood growing up with hippie parents in Austin who refused to let him eat unhealthful food. He said he had dabbled in drinking and drugs. He repeatedly mentioned Eastern philosophy and an idea of “oneness” and living a harmonious life.

I love this sort of stuff… There is that funny image with the Dalai Lama quotation:

…Sure.

It sounds like this fellow had the parents who enjoyed dabbling in Eastern spirituality and certainly this amateur philosopher (idiot) enjoyed speaking of oneness while apparently ordering hits on people who had crossed him… speaking of the ‘oneness’ of all living things (Manmul Ilchae, 萬物一體). Of course, these ideals quickly fade and we are faced with a fellow who is nothing less than a scoundrel who wasn’t even selling mere ‘psychadelics’ for his peaceful brothers and sisters but essentially was also interested in ordering the deaths of others… lol.

No, sorry to say, I do not think that the Dalai Lama is the greatest source for Buddhist truths…  You are infinitely better off going and reading the original texts for yourself than dealing with this charlatan.

The person behind Silk Road is “the modern, electronic version of Walter White in ‘Breaking Bad,’ ” said Michael Taylor, a computer science professor at UC San Diego who has followed the case. “People identify with that hero because he’s very smart and innovative. At the same time, we disagree with his con.”

I have always enjoyed people who toot the horns of criminals and act as if there is something admirable. They are in the same category of people who like to say “Y’know, Hitler/Stalin/Charles Manson was actually smart…” This is usually the extent of their contribution to any conversation — a shallow praise of some ridiculous character as intelligent.

Let’s just break with what these people un-eloquently imply and go right to Plato’s Republic, Book VI for a more concise summary of the thing he are trying to say:

And may we not say, Adeimantus, that the most gifted minds, when they are ill-educated, become pre-eminently bad? Do not great crimes and the spirit of pure evil spring out of a fulness of nature ruined by education rather than from any inferiority, whereas weak natures are scarcely capable of any very great good or very great evil?

There… That’s more palatable and a bit more developed thought.

Ulbricht’s alleged online alter-ego, “Dread Pirate Roberts,” taken from the movie “The Princess Bride,”

… lol? ….

Anyways, I would not be surprised if a similar website was to pop up with a slightly different operating mechanism but the same business plan. We might be looking at a long line of people who will be making large amounts of money in short order and then being arrested.

That is the thing about crime: it really does pay, but just not in the long run.