Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Drug War and the DEA

Happy New Year everyone. I might have a New Year blog to write over the weekend...but meanwhile I continue to see the topic of "prohibition" and the most costly and failing world-wide war against "drugs" as one of the key issues of our times.

Better than the article linked above is the first "comment" to that article by "malcolmkyle". Since I could not write a better opinion myself...I just chose to copy here for your reference:

Prohibition is a sickening horror and the ocean of hypocrisy, incompetence, corruption and human wreckage it has left in its wake is almost endless.

Prohibition has decimated generations and criminalized millions for a behavior which is entwined in human existence, and for what other purpose than to uphold the defunct and corrupt thinking of a minority of misguided, self-righteous Neo-Puritans and degenerate demagogues who wish nothing but unadulterated destruction on the rest of us.

Based on the unalterable proviso that drug use, among all echelons of society, is essentially an unstoppable and ongoing human behavior which has been with us since the dawn of time, any serious reading on the subject of past attempts at any form of drug prohibition would point most normal thinking people in the direction of sensible regulation.

By its very nature, prohibition cannot fail but create a vast increase in criminal activity, and rather than preventing society from descending into anarchy, it actually fosters an anarchic business model - the international Drug Trade. Any decisions concerning quality, quantity, distribution and availability are then left in the hands of unregulated, anonymous and ruthless drug dealers, who are interested only in the huge profits involved. Thus the allure of this reliable and lucrative industry, with it's enormous income potential that consistently outweighs the risks associated with the illegal operations that such a trade entails, will remain with us until we are collectively forced to admit the obvious.

There is therefore an irrefutable connection between drug prohibition and the crime, corruption, disease and death it causes. Anybody 'halfway bright', and who's not psychologically challenged, should be capable of understanding that it is not simply the demand for drugs that creates the mayhem, it is our refusal to allow legal businesses to meet that demand. If you are not capable of understanding this connection then maybe you're using something far stronger than the rest of us. So put away your pipe, lock yourself away in a small room with some tinned soup and water, and try to crawl back into reality A.S.A.P.

Because Drug cartels will always have an endless supply of ready cash for wages, bribery and equipment, no amount of tax money, police powers, weaponry, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safe again. Only an end to prohibition can do that! How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution?

If you support the Kool-Aid mass suicide cult of prohibition, and erroneously believe that you can win a war without logic and practical solutions, then prepare yourself for even more death, tortured corpses, corruption, terrorism, sickness, imprisonment, economic tribulation, unemployment and the complete loss of the rule of law.

"A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded."
Abraham Lincoln

The only thing prohibition successfully does is prohibit regulation & taxation while turning even our schools and prisons into black markets for drugs. Regulation would mean the opposite!

Prohibition is nothing less than a grotesque dystopian nightmare; if you support it you must be either ignorant, stupid, brainwashed, insane or corrupt.
While I share these sentiments, I understand why so many Americans support our government's spin on this issue. Drugs and other forms of addiction...including food and prescription drugs...are killing tens of thousands every year in the USA alone...and we want "big brother" to take responsibility for it. We are the biggest consumers of drugs both legal and non by far on a per capita basis. As long as we have this prohibition and focus only on the symptoms of our addictions and the black market suppliers to them...we will continue wasting billions of dollars annually through government and military operations that could be better invested elsewhere.  This war has been more futile and expensive than Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

I know many will think I am a total conspiracy theorist...but I still believe...and with recent Wikileaks publishers proving it more...that governments have used this "war on drugs" to further push their military agenda and dominance over "the people" on a grand scale. The "DEA" has basically supplanted the "CIA" as the largest infiltrators of foreign governments and soil. Big government has used the fears of terrorists and our "addictions" to convince us that they alone can provide for our "safety and tranquility" through bigger/newer bureaucracies of government and military might. Constitutional limitations of federal governments and courts have been thrown out the window of expediency. I fear this momentum has gone so far down the fast lane that it might never be recoverable for the side of constitutional law. 

I am fully convinced that if these "illicit" drugs were made and regulated in the USA like all other drugs...taxed and controlled...there would be less of this drug "sub culture" controlling so many of our fellow citizens. There would be more money for education, addiction clinics...and all these foreign "narcos" would be out of business or at least limited to competing as a foreign importer. At least they would have to compete on a market basis against legitimately produced domestic drugs of choice.

While in general I agree that most of these drugs are very harmful to humanity (along with cigarettes, alcohol and "McDonalds" type food fare) seems quite obvious to me that as the commentator above has stated so eloquently..."Based on the unalterable proviso that drug use, among all echelons of society, is essentially an unstoppable and ongoing human behavior which has been with us since the dawn of time" is time we regulated versus prohibited "the people" from having what they want. If they do harm while "high"...they should be prosecuted heavily. To incarcerate them simply for escaping their own realities or pain is NOT a humane thing to do. That my friends is not for us to judge. "There but by the grace of God go I"...

Prohibition basically just makes the criminals and governments the expense of the taxpayer and drug user. You don't see the connection?  No supply. It's so simple as to be invisible to current day leaders of our institutions.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Killing the Messenger

My how quickly "Cyberwars" escalate. This outing of hacked information from Wikileaks of the US government has certainly created a firestorm of conflicts being played out in all forms of media, governmental spy rings and has created one of the biggest "chess games" ever battled in cyberspace for distribution of information.

I have had a number of interesting discussions and exchanges of email on this subject in recent days. It is interesting to note that most "Americans" are siding up with their government on this issue in criminalization of  these "leaks"...and many foreigners are siding up with Wikileaks. This to me is another "sign" of how isolated our USA thinking is on a mass scale per global perspectives. Even "Pravda", Russia's leading news outfit, has now accused the USA of total hypocrisy when it comes to "freedom of information" and the press. Ouch...Russia preaching to US!

Many of us may have an "I don't care", blind patriotic position on this issue. I know I am personally struggling on this issue between freedoms and "patriotism". I am embarrassed for my country as I stated in my last blog on this subject...but I am also angry at many of the things "we" have done in recent and also long term history of our nation.

As my grandfather always used to say, "Be sure your sin will always find you out". The sad thing here is that the most powerful government in the world is being exposed for many heinous attitudes and actions taken "behind the scenes". Many of our "leaders" have written and expressed positions that they never thought would be exposed publicly. What is sad about this situation is that nobody is saying the information being distributed is FALSE. A person and a company is being persecuted globally...for distributing "truth". What a difference a day makes... Will people die or be exposed to foreign "powers"? I have seen no documented incidents so far...and I hope not. Yet, when people take on such roles with "nations", they probably understand the risks and are often in those roles for some pretty selfish reasons (money, adventure, power).

Regarding the "morality" of Wikileaks actions, what is so different about this situation than's exposure of "Watergate" or the Iran Contra affair? We gave awards and accolades for those who so intently exposed governmental criminality and coverups. What about "Whitewater" and other shenanigans? People were killed (or took their own lives?) over many of those revelations.

Lets remember that at the founding of the USA, many esteemed "revolutionaries" were killed for stealing and disseminating "governmental" orders or documents to the constituents of that former British colony. Damn that Paul Revere for riding around and warning everyone that "The British are coming"! That was a state secret. If we are paying off Karzai in Afghanistan and other leaders worldwide in order to "do our bidding"...I want to know about it. That's MY money going to despicable opportunists and power mongers.

Change is normally driven from the top...based on demands from the bottom or outside. While Wikileaks obviously is based on info that is not owned by them...our governments steal, distort and extort others based on espionage and spying all the time. It seems quite hypocritical they should be criminalizing their own behavior...but of course it is common for governments to have a different set of standards than they impose on the governed. Nothing will change until the masses decide to do something about this international carnage and quit believing the governmental hype at all levels. These governments should be APOLOGIZING...not rationalizing. Its time for confessions and forgiveness...and then "sinning no more".
I truly believe positive change will come from this global incident. Yes, it is embarrassing and further weakens the "moralistic" posturing of my country. Yet, the sooner we realize our political immoralities and misguided actions...the sooner we can turn things around with honesty and transparency. It is about time we had more of that.
Hating Mr Assange is like hating the person who tells you they saw your spouse cheating on you. You may hate the idea that THEY know;  you might question their reasons for telling you; but you might be further ahead to no longer place blind trust in that partner.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

President Bush, Rick Warren and "The Good Book",0,4450383.story 

 A friend invited me to view last night's "Civil Forum on Leadership" online in real time from Saddleback Church  featuring former President George W Bush and Pastor Rick Warren. This event was basically designed to promote/sell Mr. Bush' new book. While it was an intriguing almost 90 minute interview between Bush and Warren...I came away sincerely troubled by much of the attitude and quite a bit of the content that was communicated. This "forum" to me illustrated the worst of combined politics and religion...a combination that in my opinion has turned lethal and led the USA into a modern day version of "The Crusades" ...only THIS version of Crusade could turn nuclear in a heartbeat.

I truly don't wish this blog to be considered taking political sides. My observations would have been the same if President Obama or a Libertarian candidate would have been featured in such a manner. I imagine both men mean well in what they are trying to communicate and the leadership they are trying to inspire. At the same time, in my opinion the basis for their leadership and reasoning in so many things were unfounded, "un-Biblical" and lacking sensitivity and respect for the THOUSANDS of lives lost due to these political decisions and under their watch.

Here is my honest summary of the telecast I sent to my friend via email:

  I caught all but the first 20-30 minutes. Nice to see the ex Pres in a more relaxed and contemplative setting and being more candid on certain things. I'm sure he is sincere and real about most of the things/stories he shared. I'm sure Laura is a wonderful lady. I still think if a rich man will find it so hard to enter the "Kingdom of Heaven", it will be twice as hard for a politician. (Of course you understand I am speaking "tongue in cheek").

It was somewhat nauseating to me the "good ole boy", backslapping approach Ricky took towards the former President.  These people in my opinion are "trivializing" the risks of our country and the deaths of THOUSANDS that took place under their watch.  There should be more solemnity...and yes APOLOGIES...for much that happened instead of trying to make each other out to be "God's modern day Messiahs". I'm sick of this pseudo religious posturing. Much of it is bad theology from my Biblical studies of many years. This is the worst marriage between bad politics and "syrupy" religion...

I still come away from this interview feeling that Bush Jr had much less intellect, class and grace than his father. I also think his father for all his "intellect, class and grace"...was guilty of some pretty heinous decisions and involvements going back as far as CIA directorship days and as the "hatchet man" for Reagan during the Iran Contra scandals...arming Iran and making a lot of USA enemies in Nicaragua and the rest of LatAm. While intentions may have been reasonable in their minds...the morals for many of those actions and international intervention are what we are now paying a price for in our country. I do not view these guys as "holy" men of faith. Sorry. Their theology goes to about the first grade level.

My biggest disappointment overall in life is not seeing more "leaders" of great intellect and moral character. I'm not talking about blowjobs in the oval office. I am talking about abiding by the constitution and voluntarily limiting powers and being honest and open with the electorate. "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" (Bush was basically honest enough to admit that and to his "ego" during this program).  I unfortunately feel and observe that all of these former USA leaders are in some regards corrupted by their power and tradeoffs they have made to get where they went...

Terms like "Good Book" and the "man upstairs" used so much by Bush and others are terms bred by "American style" Christianity. These terms to me are irreverent, basically secular vernacular. It seems to me the "Muslims" take their religion much more seriously/solemnly and for that reason are a growing tide in the world more than the Christian faith. Christianity has lost its "salt" and become just another "religion".

The final scary thought for me last night was that this tide of commentary and attitude expressed is the growing consensus in American consciousness. Rah rah patriotism tied to claims of "God's guidance" have put our country in a bad position globally...both economically and politically. In response to their own problems, the "powers that be" are passing more laws and regulations to control the tide of American's funds and thought process.  This week you have seen the unprecedented shutdown of over 70 internet sites by the government without due process of law. After the fact they are trying to ram through legislation giving them legal support to do so when there are so many legal opinions that this is unconstitutional. Meanwhile, you can also see many of these lying political leaders shaking in their boots at the "Wikileaks" outing of their documents and communications that obviously won't line up with the political and media spin given to the general public on these recently catastrophic war activities. If you have studied Nazism in the 30s, these types of actions should bring tremendous fear to any true American's mind.

Perhaps the perfect conclusion for this blog is a news clipping sent to me today via email which I about 90% agree with...

Monday, November 29, 2010

The matter of Wikileaks

The situation of our Government's panic over the "Wikileaks" emergency where millions of supposedly "secret" documents and communications hacked from our "secure" government databases are being released semi-publicly provokes a number of reactions. I think it time for a little "family discussion" amongst us Americans to understand the real issues and how we should respond to them.

I approach this situation like a "family matter" where someone outside the family is spreading all the family secrets and dirty laundry for all our neighbors and community members to see...and it is aggressive and unpleasant. Personally I have very mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I want my family's (country) honor maintained and be PROUD to be an "American"...yet I also want to know what it is that is so dangerous to my fellow countrymen and allies. Part of me wants to know about our family's dirty dark secrets...while another part of me just wants to stay childlike and trusting of my parents (government).

Unfortunately, for me it is very hard to be trusting of my "parents" in recent decades. It seems that they are broke financially and have been sending a lot of money to unknown "foreigners" or strangers to the detriment of the family's financial security. They also have been wanting to know more and more of my private business and controlling my behaviors and morals while they themselves seem not too bound by many of those same "rules". They have been using my "college trust fund" (social security) for decades for other purposes while leaving promissory notes for only part of the funds that have disappeared. Some of my parents (Congressmen) work 2-4 years and receive lifelong pensions and insurance benefits that I have to work 40+ years to carry them and myself. They allow my foreign cousins (British, Scandinavian, Indian, etc) to come and work in our home country for the same money without having to contribute to the rent and living costs at the same rate I do. Every time I leave or return home, my parents pat me down as if they don't know me and treat me as a common criminal because they don't seem to recognize my credentials. I get treated with more respect by the neighbors than I do my "parents".

Now it appears the family name and all our network of friends throughout the world is in danger because of letters and messages our parents have sent over the years describing things they have done that even to this day I don't know about. They have held all this information from me all my life and yet now they are warning me that this information...which I still don't know about...will harm me and them for a long time to come.  It will somehow be a reflection on all of us...and yet I apparently have no right to know the details of that which I am supposed to fear.

So, I say to my "parents"..."I love you and my home, but if you want me to stand behind you in this matter or worse yet perhaps FIGHT for the family's'd better start telling me what is going on. If I am too "young" to know, then I am probably too young to fight your battles. Plus, if you don't start letting me keep more of my allowance, I will probably be less content or passionate about your problems and be more rebellious to your wishes. I will probably just stay here in the dark and "hope" you somehow restore the family's honor. I think it will be very sad to read about all your private "sins" or questionable moralities that might not match up to what you have forced ME to abide by all my life from someone outside the family. It will be very embarrassing for me when asked about these things (should they be as bad as you are suggesting) to simply say "I didn't know" or "I'm sorry". That should be YOUR role, not mine."

To summarize...the role of government is to represent the PEOPLE's wishes and viewpoints. It is obvious to me that concept has gone out the window for most of our legislators. If these "Wikileaks" are as bad as everyone seems to be braced for...I for one will be holding my own government and fellow Americans who elected them accountable for what truths come out. Its up to each of us "family members" to pursue that which is right and punish those who do wrong.  Wrong is matter who is doing it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Travel Pananoia

Flight travel post 9/11 has become very hazardous and laborious, especially for USA based passengers. As is often the case, reactions turn into over reactions...often times without foundation or reason. This seems to be happening on both sides of the travel security equation. Governmental security continues to over react to many perceived terrorist threats, while travelers often over react to new processes put in place to secure the general travel public's safety.

The most recent illustration of this phenomenon is the John Tyner pat down case in San Diego. According to the Youtube taping of the incident by him, he refused the machine scan process and chose the optional "pat down" method...but took exception when they said they would be touching his genital area. When told by a supervisor who was called into the situation that he could submit to the process...or leave and not fly today...he chose the later. He was escorted by TSA and police to an American Airlines counter who refunded his non-refundable ticket. During that process, TSA management with the police came back and asked him to resubmit himself for the screening or basically be charged criminally on some sort of code that they didn't seem to mention. Apparently those charges have been filed with an $10,000 fine attached. Now Mr Tyner and other citizens are going more public with their fight against this perceived governmental tyranny.

Personally I see paranoia and over reaction on both sides of this conflict. I think the general public wants security to be thorough and secure the people who are allowed to travel with them. I would rather go through the scanner machine than to be physically patted down...yet many people, apparently including the pilots union...are paranoid about over exposure to that technology for health reasons. I supposed if I had to be scanned multiple times every day, I might have the same concerns. I don't have that concern for occasional flying. If someone doesn't want to go through that machine, then pat downs make sense somewhat. Yet, I think the genital touching is going overboard on that front as well.

My biggest disconnect with the TSA approach is their "randomness" approach of who they pull aside for more thorough examination...and on the other hand their paranoia about "profiling" people. This has never made sense to me. If your typical "terrorist" is of Arab decent and between the ages of 18-40...I don't "get" pulling American retirees in wheelchairs over to one side for a "pat down" or sniff test. With today's access to technology and ID verification...these people should be screened and risk levels accessed on each passenger long before they even reach the airport. The Israelis do this and they seem to have a much better record of controls on flying terrorists. They also are not afraid of "profiling" the bad guys.

Unfortunately, many of us normal citizens are now getting paranoid about traveling and the overt governmental presence and oversight of our lives. 9/11 caused in my opinion an over reaction on the government's part in suspending many privacy rights and freedoms granted by our constitution. The "Patriot Act" was supposed to be a "temporary powers" type of bill that has somehow turned into a permanent contract with our government powers. We are rightly paranoid when our government can arrest or search us without due cause or process of law. Many of the attitudes and tactics being used by our government are reminiscent of the "Gestapo" tactics of the Nazi era. They used many of the same justifications and stirring of paranoia to gain the upper hand over mass civilians in limiting their rights and freedoms. Travel is now just another extension of overstepping governmental regulation into our way of life.

Thanks to the immediacy of internet media we are now seeing natural balance and access of well as disinformation...being distributed to the masses. Hopefully this will help us find a balance of what is acceptable between government actions and the constituents they serve. We need balance and reason instead of over reactions and manipulation of emotions. We want our governments to get the bad guys without making us all suspected criminals. The problem is that at the end of the day "humans" are on each side of these conflicts. Humans run our government bureaucracies. Humans run the airlines and travel agencies. And of course, the general public is full of humans. All are imperfect and we all need to work together to arrive at the balanced common good.

I am convinced most disconnects in this dynamic is based on egos and human pride. All the role players in the San Diego pat down incident to me are so representative of the various factions in this "play". You have the systematic messaging and direction given by particular TSA "worker bees"...who when faced with a John Q Public that doesn't agree to the process calls over a manager of bigger ego. When that person doesn't succeed in getting compliance from the citizen...they make it into a scene with uniformed police escort away from the "security area". The worst part of the TSA reaction was when they brought in the "suit" management guy who is determined to "win the argument" and "complete the process" whether the civilian likes it or the threat of criminalization and hefty fine. That was way over the top and too authoritarian a position for a "public servant" to take on. You are there to get "terrorists"...not turn a citizen into a candidate for being one. STUPID.

The overarching sadness for me in this "dance" is that all sides are playing roles that perpetuate the problem. The more authoritarian governmental entities become, the more rebellious become various sectors of citizenry. This has the potential of pushing more and more bystanders into the side of the "terrorists". It's kind of like the psychological aspect where if you accuse someone of being a criminal or treat them like one long enough...they will start acting on the notion. It is negative psychology on the grandest of scales.

I hope all the publicity on this issue affects reason and brings positive change for travelers as we approach the holiday travel season. Meanwhile, I will try to reduce chances of conflicts with the "authorities" as much as possible while traveling. I will probably chose the machine over the pat down...and dress as little like a terrorist as possible, including leaving the wheelchair at home.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why no one invades Switzerland

This video underscores one of the reasons Switzerland has little history of invasion and a very low crime rate. As the Swiss gentleman in the video says towards the end..."the key to freedom is to be able to defend yourself".

My fellow Panama blogger Sam Taliaferro posted this video with his comments about Panama passing new gun restriction laws. I agree with his sentiments. I continue to get alarmed that world governments in general are trying to disarm their citizens...while at the same time producing more weapons for "the State" than ever before.

In an ideal world or would not need firearms unless you hunted for survival food and clothing. But as long as so much of the world continues as the old "wild wild west" of crime and is a foolish notion to take all armaments out of the hands of the law abiding.

I prefer Switzerland's model where they train their citizens in firearm safety and how to shoot. I believe in having harsh laws against those who use firearms in a crime...yet I still believe the best deterrent to crime is being prepared with equal or superior "force" in your personal space. Governments that don't support this approach in my opinion are suspect in their motivation. If they are the government OF the majority of the people...why should they be afraid of armed constituents? I understand taking guns from outlaws and convicted felons...but not law abiding citizens. At least in true constitutional republics or democracies...this should NOT be an issue.

Election Day

Tomorrow brings a new mid term election in the USA. There seems to be a quiet acceptance that the "Republicans" will be taking over in Congressional leadership capacity. Personally I'm not sure it will make much difference who controls congress as a majority of congressmen in recent decades seem to me more "self" or "special interest" serving than to their "constituents".

I personally have the following core sentiments regarding this (and all recent) election:

While having lost faith in most of our political leaders, here is hoping tomorrow's elections in the USA brings forth more TRUE leaders who will represent their CONSTITUENTS versus "special interests" or party "platforms". I support any candidate (Republican, Democrat, Independent, Conservative, or Liberal) who stands for a strong Constitutional government with limited roles their constitution grants them. Their role is primarily to defend our borders and EVERY citizen's rights to privacy and the individual pursuit of peace, prosperity and happiness. Lets call it a return to "freedom and justice for ALL".

Another interesting quote that struck a chord with me today on the populace and politics...

"I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand "I have a problem, it is the Government's job to cope with it!" or "I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!" "I am homeless, the Government must house me!" and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations..." Margaret Thatcher, 23 September 1987

Here's to hoping some Constitutional "freedom lovers" make it into office tomorrow. It's up to you America...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Controlling Drugs

After reading the obit of one of America's leading experts on the history of drugs in America, David Musto, it reminded me of many observations and articles read over the years on this subject. I have alluded in other blog posts to some of my viewpoints on the "drug war" my country is losing and the monies wasted in the wrong directions...but I have not clarified my thoughts in writing on drugs overall.

One of my fundamental disagreements with the world-wide "drug wars" is that YOU CAN'T LEGISLATE MORALITY FOR ANY SIGNIFICANT PERIOD OF TIME! During my relatively short lifetime, we have seen TRILLIONS of dollars spent trying to control the supply of what are deemed "illegal" or "illicit" drugs...with much of that money coming from heavy "sin" taxes on "legal" drugs/substances such as tobacco and alcohol...which substances kill hundreds of thousands of people every YEAR! Most of us have seen people close to us affected or dying from using these substances, yet...they remain legal while substances such as Marijuana...which have scientifically been proven to have medicinal properties for some diseases...remain taboo and illegal. My opinion is, if you are going to legislate limits on one harmful substance, you need to put limits on all. But of course, prohibition never worked and will never work. And lets face it...SOME companies and rich families make a LOT of money on those products/substances in worldwide distribution.

In addition to the societal costs of fighting global "underground" suppliers to our addictions...we continue to criminalize the sick and demented addicts among us...without getting to the root of the cause. Our institutions just drive many of these forces and appetites underground which has now established huge resources and revenues that will never be documented or enter mainstream commerce. We have created two economies...and two macro classes in our global population; traditional/formal markets and underground/informal markets. Global economies cannot be truly measured without taking into account those informal markets.

PRIMAL MESSAGE: We will never eradicate the supply if we don't affect the demand.

In my broad travels and experiences in life, I have observed many aspects of the "drug dilemma" fairly close and personal through some people close to me. Substances from alcohol to Marijuana to "prescription narcotics" to harder drugs have affected the personal lives of many potentially great people who have been in my path. That makes it a very personal and emotional issue by nature. Anyone I have known who overcame addictions did so by PERSONAL CHOICE, not by edict or legal decree. Even legislated drug treatment programs mandated by a court on someone are a waste of time if THAT PERSON is not ready to change their lives and actions. Some of the most obvious hypocrisies I have seen on this issue are "blasted" cocktailers spewing forth about putting "druggies" in jail. It would be laughable if it weren't so sad.

I grew up in the late 60s and early 70s when "illicit drugs" and "free love" became more mainstream aspects of American culture. The boomer generation and large economic growth of those times fueled a consumerism that was insatiable. With new wealth and independence came new levels of greed, debauchery...and people began discovering how money and freedom alone does not bring happiness. As people began to express their "freedom" and "success" by throwing out many cultural taboos and traditions...individualism became more rampant and the rule of law in governments and religions were questioned and/or disregarded by the growing multitudes. Individuals were allowed to explore their natures and had the economic freedom to do so. With this new wealth and boredom came the tendency to "medicate" both legally and illegally any ache, pain or depression we were experiencing. Have a headache? Pop an aspirin. Pulled muscle or back spasms? Pop a big dose of Ibuprofen or some sort of steroid. Feeling depressed? Here...take the latest version of psychotic drug recommended by your psychiatrist. The problem with all this "cause and effect" was that these substances taken over a long period of time can kill us by affecting other organs as side affects...and often taking medications only cover up "symptoms" of a real problem or health defect. What is the morality of that? Even after adjusting for inflation, we now spend as much on health care every 10 days as we did in the entire year of 1950. That's the cost of drugs for ya...

As I now look back to those times (60s-70s), I begin to see the roots of current political and religious realities. Forgive me if I am too "general" in some of my comments for the sake of brevity and blogspace...but drugs has for me become the main "battle ground" for the cultural wars in our society. There are also a number of ironies that to me are so obvious...

The more society's institutions try and place dogmatic controls on the behaviors of its members, the more various factions go in extreme opposite directions. Most humans/individuals have the constant battle between what they WANT to do as individuals and what is ACCEPTED by their peers and fellow members of society. Some of us obviously stray more independently than others.

Dr. Musto's work also pointed out "...the close correlation, historically, between public outrage over certain drugs and their use by feared or hated minorities." This governmental "war on drugs" has become a "class war" and against the people themselves...not the drugs or addiction. This is most evident when you see poor black or minority young men incarcerated for years for possession or sales of drugs...while rich and "pretty" white actresses who are repeat offenders serve no more than a few hours of a few MONTHS conviction. I am a white person who is enraged by this lack of uniform justice in my home country.

This is a huge subject I know...but I think the macros can be summed up quite easily. The "war on drugs" by all statistics has been a failure...BECAUSE...with all the trillions spent we still have more and more addicts, pushers and kids BUYING the stuff...both legal and non-legal substances. And while they succeeded in reducing the drug supply chain in has only been replaced and multiplied in Mexico which is almost in a state of anarchism as the money and supply has been pushed CLOSER to the users by this drug war. Ridiculous!

I know many people who come to Latin America and elsewhere to load up on "legal" prescription drugs without prescriptions and are as "addicted" to them as any heroin addict. The false morality of this is huge. Just because drugs...or alcohol...or tobacco are legal doesn't mean you have license to destroy your health with them. To this end...ALL drugs should be legal and controlled by society for societies sake. This would take most of the drugs off THE STREET and put them in pharmacies or clinics where they belong. People should not be convicted for using them, but for losing control on them. If someone wants to OD, it is their privilege and personal responsibility regarding that possibility. If they affect or damage someone else while out of control...that is when institutions of society should step in to protect victims and the rest of society.

It is my fundamental belief that if government and religion put the same amount of money and effort into helping educate and treat the USERS of drugs...including warnings about the legal prescriptions of synthetic drugs that are killing many people... the war on drugs could be turned around. Yet, I fear there are many dark forces behind the scenes that are quite happy having the war as it is. Ongoing, never ending churning of funds through their grimy big hands/accounts that perpetuate the cycle of devastation and destruction...mostly to the poor and minorities who some people want to keep minimalized. And lets face it...drugs also keep the rich and beautiful aloof to what is really going on as well.

Final quote from THIS LINK...

"One of the defining characteristics of the drug war is politician’s ignoring expert findings and providing demagogic enforcement measures to placate idiot & ignorant voters. And never, ever, EVER considering de-criminalizing and harm reduction allied to social reform."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Burkas or Bikinis?

I woke up dreaming this morning that I was talking with a group of attractive and sensually dressed young women about their conservative religious views on sex and relationships. I must admit that the visual aspect of this dream was enjoyable...yet I woke up bothered by the conversation. Weird huh? But actually as I think about it perhaps this dream is all about some lifelong conflicts I have observed within myself and society as a whole. How do we handle the many mysteries and disparities on relationships between the sexes? Why do we place so much emphasis on fashion and appearances? Should it be a "religious" issue? Is there any "correct" or rational position between "Burkas and Bikinis"?

Now, I understand when a man starts writing on themes touching on the opposite sex or regarding feminism and roles between the sexes...many women's hair starts raising on the napes of their necks. Blood starts rushing to their heads and a sensitive, understanding male should probably get ready to make themselves scarce or just button up. As many of you know...I have never been very smart about that. I have had my share (probably more) of discussions with female friends and family members on these sensitive issues...but I haven't really written much about watch comes.

I won't cover all the issues in one blog obviously...but I will try for now to address some macros and micros on my observations on the feminine mystique and battle between the sexes. It goes without saying that my views are from a "male" perspective...and while I like to think of myself as "enlightened" or semi-educated...I'll state from the outset that I am probably too conservative for the feminists in my views...and to liberal for the ultra-conservatives. That means I probably will never achieve majority support of my views. Still, I hope my experiences can at least just be another voice in what I think is one of the least discussed or understood challenges in the world...the relationship between the sexes.

A long time ago I read the now famous book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus". While I found the book somewhat over generalizing, I think it made many valid observations about the ongoing differences in how men and women think, feel and act. But I think the subject is much more convoluted than Dr. Gray gets into in this is much deeper and conflicted than just being from "different planets" or going back to caveman or "Tarzan and Jane" type analogies.

Much of this theme, like religion and politics, is REALLY subjective and if every person in the world is so unique...well, start combining people two by two and you have some REAL unique and different experiences in life and living. There is no exact science here...and this subject probably is at the core of modern day psychology. Not the origins of "man" or "who am I"...but more about who am I in relationship to him or her.

Here are a few of my basic observations or thoughts:

Its easier for the rest of the animal kingdom. While many species do unite for life and make families...most of them have very short life spans. They don't have to spend 50+ years together, therefore they don't have as many issues about "getting old together".

Most animals mate on pure instinct and "animal attraction". In the human race we have much more to consider such as do we come from the same class or background, will they get along with my friends and let me see his or her financial statement.

Many species, such as Deer, have special mating or "rutting" season. During this time the male testosterone is highly elevated and the females hormones somehow know to respond and get ready for mating season. Of course, in Gods infinite wisdom regarding survival of the fittest, the Bucks grow horns to fight with...mostly fighting over which Doe he is going to conquer. The biggest buck gets first choice of the Doe. Hmmm, maybe we humans evolved from know...ultimate fighting, boxing, various macho sports where we elevate the victor to the spoils...including the prettiest women. Another big difference is that people tend to be in "rutting season" every weekend. We and the rabbits...

We are the only animals who put on clothes and hide our "private parts". Whether this goes back to Adam and Eve in the "Garden of Eden", I don't know. Somehow I think it was more tied to the rationality of man when he saw that "all men were NOT created equal" and wanted to cover up that fact.

I have been privileged...or life to grow up in these modern, "interesting" times. It is just in the last century that women were given democratic rights to vote in much of the first world. It's only in the last century or so that women were "permitted" to work in traditional, wage earning jobs outside the home. Even with the advent of rapid "modernization", we are still fighting wars/conflicts over cultural and religious issues...may of which are based on women's rights in many of what we call "backward" cultures.

Even within the USA during my lifetime we have seen a shifting of values between the sexes. We have the fundamentalist religious right fighting culturally and politically to preserve values of family, home and traditional "Patriarchal" roles in society between men and women. We have gone from Victorian traditions to "free love" of the 70s to now growing acceptance of "Burkas" for Muslim women in our country. Talk about diversity!

In the midst of all that you have had the growth of "Feminism" or "Feminine Mystique" where women have demanded greater autonomy and participation in life's political and business decisions. I have always respected and supported equal rights for women...and in many ways I see them as the "stronger" sex. I am convinced most of us men would be much more "wimpy" about enduring pregnancy and the hard work of raising children and homemaking. There is an alarming growth in America of single women raising children without support from a husband or male counterpart. I respect the ability of some of those women to do that...though it is obvious to me that this is not the ideal way to live and raise kids. Yet, there are some tough women stepping up to that challenge. My mother was one of those.

Where the feminist movement loses me is when they overshoot their goals or go to extreme positions that most of their fellow females are not even in line with. I truly understand women's nature of reacting or rejecting centuries of subjugation by Patriarchal societies and religions. The animalistic raping or killing of women and children by "warriors" that even continues in many parts of our conflictive world today is inexcusable and calls into question if such men have ANY intelligence or soul. I guess not. To this end, I believe there is a fundamental nature between men and women that men should protect them...not beat and/or rape them. Sex should ALWAYS be consensual like with most intelligent beings. Unfortunately we have some very deviant creatures that have evolved over time. Personally I think those deviants should be castrated...applying basic "old testament" justice to such deviants.

On the other hand...I believe that whether you want to admit it or not...humans are VERY sexual in general. Obviously some cultures and traditions more than others embrace or allow for their sexuality. Unfortunately, mankind has been continually manipulated and "controlled" regarding their sexuality by the institutions and "powers that be". While I know arguments can be made that we are better off with strict rules and mores instead of just freely expressing our sexual natures...I think instead of making things "better" in understanding our sexuality, we have just clouded the issue and our natures with layers of guilt and cover-up to where most societies have no room for educating their children on sex without some form of prohibition and guilt tripping attached. In my opinion, this has been some of the root causes for so much deviant sexual behavior in our society. It seems to me that when people are forbidden to do something...their curiosity and drive to do so becomes that much stronger. You have MANY people living dishonestly about their sexuality. Many deviants and dysfunctional people come out of the most strict, legalistic cultures when it comes to sex. In my opinion, the "educated" world is very backward and conflicted in its expression or pursuit of sexuality. I would venture to guess that most marriages within a few years become very devoid of sexual intimacy. Why is that? Natural...or learned behaviors?

In the midst of these natural tensions between the sexes we now have growing extremes between the liberal and conservative views on the subject. With the advent of "Democracy" and "civil rights" have many people advocating freedom to wear anything...or public places. On the other hand, you have extreme Feminists pandering against making women "sex objects"...they don't think women should dress differently from men or provocatively if they want to gain respect and equality with men. Then you have ultra conservative groups within Islam, Christianity and other religions who want their women to cover up for an entirely different reason. They still view women as "property" or UNDER the man as head of household. To that end they don't want "their" woman objectified by other men...nor do they apparently want to be "tempted" by seeing other women's flesh. Apparently some people just can't see a little hairy leg without going into lusting convulsions. God apparently is NOT happy with our viewing the opposite flesh.

Well, let me summarize with a few of my admissions or viewpoints.

I have seen a lot of "flesh" in my day...but the sexiest women are those who show "just enough" but don't throw it all out there "in your face".

The art of seduction is waning in the world

I never understood scantily or seductively dressed women in public who took offense at being stared at by men. If they don't want to be observed or "lusted after"...cover up! And women who don't understand men looking at those scantily clothed women...don't understand men.

I have never understood fat men or women wearing skin tight clothing or "speedos"

I have never understood the sexual depravity I have seen in many fundamentalist religious men I have known or known of. Get honest...and get some help.

I believe "sex education" is a natural thing and doesn't need to be taught with all our adult biases and baggage. And yes, some people are more "sexual" than others. Be open and don't guilt trip the children.

There should be no laws regarding sexual activities between consenting adults. We may not like or understand the proclivities of another person...but that doesn't give us license to judge or control THEIR behavior. The only necessary laws are to protect men, women and children from unwanted advances and sexual aggression.

True equality between the sexes should include equal "freedom" (if so chosen) to explore other relationships or experiences. The macho double standard regarding sex we see throughout our societies is just that.

For me, the ideal would be we could all run around naked and somehow still see and respect the individual beauty and personality we all have. People who are "naturalists" or belong to Nudist colonies I think are pursuing this honesty. I am afraid until our world gets more honest about the nature and importance of sex in our existence, we will forever be dealing with false ideas of who we are and how we tick. While we have grown up being polite, respectful and very PRIVATE about sex...I'm not sure that has helped us much with the population boom...or the problem of pedophilia.

Burkas...or Bikinis? Depends on who's wearing them. Beyond that, it should be every womans choice.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Deductive Reasoning...a dying art

Maybe it is just me, but I am having a huge disconnect with a lot of core logic in today's world. Its seems that with "new math" and modern education coming into vogue, somehow common sense and deductive reasoning has flown out the window.

Granted, deductive reasoning is not fool proof or always arriving at truth. If your premises are bad, many times your conclusion will be also. Being a proponent of "cause and effect", I think most of the world's problems can be traced back to poor premises...and primarily a lack of historical understanding or perspective.

Disconnects in our deductive reasoning is the primary cause in my opinion of the new subjectivity for words and labels. For example, what does it mean when someone says "they are Christian" or "they are Muslims"? What does it mean when someone is labeled a "Republican" or a "Democrat"? Unfortunately you have a LOT of people tossing around these labels either in self description or in defining others...yet I tend to often have big disconnects between the labels and what/who that person is or says. So what is changing...the premise or the conclusion?

I still believe in logic and "deductive reasoning". I still believe 2+2=4 and that love begets love and hate begets hate. While I don't think we can totally predict the future, I think we can have a pretty good idea on some of our deductions...

The chasm between fundamentalists versus secularists will continue to widen as more of the world becomes aware of the premises of the other through shrinking geographic access and technology/communication connections.

The poor and uneducated will be THE battleground for dominance in both democratic and dictatorial government systems. It will always be the rich/educated "few" against the "masses".

Future wars will be fought via technology and ideology rather than guns and bombs.

"Capitalism" and "Communism" will become insignificant words as both systems continue competing for economic world dominance and defining economic models. I predict Asia/China will continue to dominate in this arena while current first world powers continue to decline.

"Singularity"...where human intelligence and computer intelligence unite...will transform the world in the next 40-50 years.

This aspect of "singularity" is probably the greatest factor in determining the future of mankind. While I continue to value the "heart and soul" of alarms me how far away our emotions have taken us from solid, deductive reasoning. If and when we arrive to the point where computer intelligence and human intelligence intertwine, it is my hope that it will restore congruity and reasoning as applied to the world's problems.

My fantasy is to have a big deductive "computer" listening in on discussions/speeches at the "United Nations" and US Congress sessions...tied into big flashing neon signs flashing immediate responses to illogical arguments and proposals. I would love to see computers expressing immediate responses of "Illogical", "Unreasonable" or "untenable" to the vacuous rantings of people like Chavez, Ahmadinejad and other crazed lunatics leading various nation/states in our world. We also could use instant computer gratification when it comes to economic and tax systems. We need to somehow restore deductive reasoning to our greater human logic.

I am reminded of one of my childhood TV shows from the 60s, "Lost in Space", where the Robinson family were constantly dependent on the computerized wisdom of "The Robot". When the whimsical machinations of "Dr. Smith" got too far out of hand or the "kids" would wander off into was always "Mr Robot" who came to their rescue with solid information or practical solutions to the situation at hand...or even many times sacrificing his own welfare to protect the "weaker" human being. Is computerized intelligence capable of emotion as well? Only time will tell.

I for one am rooting for the day when our human race is more controlled by computerized "deductive reasoning" than the fanatical, ideological and emotional rationalizations that are currently destroying our natural order.

PS. For extra credit, I highly recommend reading and following one of the world's most brilliant minds on the subject of "Singularity". I have played Ray Kurzweil's keyboards over the years...but his greatest contributions are still ahead of him. Here are a few links of interest:

Ray Kurzweil: How technology's accelerating power will transform us

Ray Kurzweil - Futurist

Monday, September 13, 2010

Water...the blue gold of the next millennium

I was impacted by the Cinemax showing of this documentary "Flow...For Love of Water" which can now be viewed on demand from YouTube starting with part one as linked above.

We hear and read a lot about climate change, ecology issues from deforestation and strip mining everywhere...but comparatively few see very little coverage of what I think is THE ecology issue of our times...WATER SUPPLY.

We consistently complain and worry about the prices and supply of oil and gas related to our economies and cost of living...yet we don't flinch at buying a pint of bottled water for $2 in some stores. The primary driver of this phenomenon is our concern over drinking clean water as we recognize that our world's water supply is becoming more and more toxic by the hour.

Having grown up in the "Great Lakes" state of life has been blessed with tremendous times spent fishing, boating, skiing and just looking out over beautiful fresh lakes and streams. While I don't mind walking the fine ocean beaches you find in Florida, the Caribbean or California...I still prefer the fresh air of "sweet water"...the stuff you can drink, swim, and frolic in without being covered with salt and saline. I've tasted a lot of desalinated water from the oceans, but you can't beat the purity and good taste of mineralized sweet water from a lake or stream.

Of course, from the business side we all now know that waterfront lands, whether salt or fresh water, is always going up in price. Waterfront or view is a given as the most secure land investment one can make. I have acted on that. Yet, as this film so effectively depicts, our world's water supplies are now being controlled and affected by somewhat sinister forces and organizations that supersede our "ownership" of waterfront properties.

What God took a few million years to put into natural flow and motion, men and nations have now changed all of that for some pretty selfish concerns. I believe what I have read from many sources...that our world has millions who are hungry and thirsty NOT because of shortages of water or food, but simply because of manipulated distribution issues and hording for a few.

As this film points out so vividly, millions of people are being displaced every decade or so by huge conglomerates and countries who are "damming up" various rivers and lakes to divert water from one source to another. While there are a number of examples of positive effects and progressive results from this (such as the Panama Canal)...there are also hideous examples of taking from many to give to a few. And of course, history is full of wars and conflicts over watered lands and regions.

I will let this movie speak for itself...but I challenge every rational one of us to keep an eye on this subject and speak and act out where we can on protecting the quality and "ownership" issues of the world's water supply and quality. It's not that we have less of it...water is totally recycling...but we have less quality and uneven distribution of such in this shrinking world we live in. My parents brought me up with a solid respect for conservancy and responsible care-taking of nature. My Mom and Step dad were heavily involved in conservancy organizations throughout Michigan...and I am proud of them for that. Unfortunately, most of the world is naive and complacent about water...possibly the most important product of nature in life...the foundation of our whole food chain.

Here is a quote that struck me recently..."a lot of people live without love, but I don't know anyone that survived living without water...". Yet, we now live in a world where BAD water is the root cause for millions of deaths. Our pollution of the water and food chain are killing us faster than all the wars combined. What are we going to do about it? Water weighs heavily in my investment strategy in this life...and responsibility for clean and distributed water should be at the core of our moral fiber.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Privacy rights...

I received the following content from the Sovereign Society today and decided to pass this important perspective on via my blog. These are things you may not know--and may not want to hear. In my opinion they are fundamental to our personal and national freedoms based on constitutional rights...

Let’s start with a freedom quiz:

Did You Know …

1) The U.S. government uses your travel records to create a “risk assessment” profile, to decide if you’re a security risk and whether you’ll be allowed to travel?

2) The government can access your prescription drug records under their “Prescription Drug Monitoring Program”?

3) President George W. Bush’s wiretapping and communications surveillance has not gone away, but been expanded under President Obama?

4) The Patriot Act is unconstitutional and allows government agents to secretly access any financial information about you they want?

5) The FBI and the U.S. military admitted to obtaining information on thousands of U.S. citizens without the search warrants that the Fourth Amendment requires?

Even More Snoop Power, Coming Soon

The Obama Justice Department is trying to convince federal courts to extend warrantless surveillance powers beyond even what the Patriot Act provides.

The government now wants free access to ALL private e-mail and Internet browsing records and pending legislation in Congress may do exactly that.

Including those who are not suspected of any wrongdoing! And without any warrants, or judicial supervision of any kind!


Libertarian columnist Glenn Greenwald writes, “It is unsurprising that the 9/11 attack fostered a massive expansion of America’s already sprawling Surveillance State. But what is far less understandable, is that this growth shows no signs of abating even as we approach almost a full decade of emotional and temporal distance from that event…Simply put, there is no surveillance power too intrusive or unaccountable for our political class provided the word ‘terrorism’ is invoked to justify those powers.”

Americans, of all people in the world, should be ashamed of themselves if they are willing to stand by and watch their hard-won freedoms diminish … or disappear.

'What Do I Have to Hide?'

This question infuriates me.

It’s bad enough when the government asks, but worse when free people ask themselves.
I’ll answer for both.

The government, wanting surveillance of your finances and every other aspect of your life, reasons: “If you aren't doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?”

Here’s your answer – to the government, your friends who don’t value their own privacy and any other askers:

Privacy is an inherent human right. It is a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.

Why do humans clothe their bodies? Why do we live in houses? Is not privacy central to just about every aspect of our lives?

Do you share your finances with everyone you meet? Do you spill every secret thought that goes through your mind to the next stranger who walks by?

So isn’t privacy a very intimate part of who we are?

And if we wanted our e-mails read by anyone other than the person to whom we’ve written them, wouldn’t we instead blog or “tweet” them to the world?

Personal Freedom vs. Government Control

The real choices are personal freedom and liberty versus government control of our lives and our fortunes.

Tyranny -- whether it arises under threat of terrorist attack, alleged solutions to banking problems or under any other form of scrutiny -- is still tyranny.

Liberty requires security plus privacy.

Widespread surveillance, whether by police or nosy bureaucrats, is the very definition of a police state.

It is up to us to champion our privacy. Personal and financial, even (and especially) when we have nothing to hide.

The Government Already Has All the Authority it Needs to Fight Real Crime

The truth is that government really doesn’t need these enormous policing powers.

Under the U.S. Constitution and laws, government already has authority to investigate and prosecute anyone it has probable cause to believe has committed, or is planning to commit, a crime.

It also has authority for surveillance of anyone it has probable cause to believe represents a foreign power or is a spy. Even if the person is not suspected of any crime.

And honestly, these ever-expanding police powers that destroy our liberty and privacy likely won’t increase our safety. Yet, they’ve destroyed our constitutional rights.

When I was 15-years-old, I swore my first oath to support and defend the United States Constitution when I served as a young page in the House of Representatives. And I took that same oath to uphold the Constitution as a member of Congress (a Republican and a conservative).

Every congressman and senator currently serving has also “sworn their allegiance.”

Knowing this oath, how can we explain Congress’ continuing support of unconstitutional laws? Laws like the Patriot Act destroy guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure.

My answer: fear. It's not justified fear of "terrorism" -- but cowardly fear of politicians not getting re-elected. Politics rules, and to hell with the U.S. Constitution!

Faithfully yours,

Robert E. Bauman JD
Former Congressman from Texas

A couple famous quotes in closing...

“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”--Benjamin Franklin

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.”--John F. Kennedy

"Nations grown corrupt
Love bondage more than liberty;
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty."
~John Milton

"Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance." ~Woodrow Wilson

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." ~James Madison, speech, Virginia Convention, 1788

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Driving your own bus...

One of my fundamental beliefs in life is “cause and effect”. I believe our lives, circumstances and conditions of the times are all based on “causes and effects” of thoughts and actions passed down in some cases for millenniums. The main difference…and for me a proof of God as a higher power…is the ability of man to reason and change based on that reason. How is it that our species in the chain of the animal kingdom came to have such power and enlightenment compared to the other living creators of this world? Was it all really chance…or is there a source and purpose to everything that happens in time and space? Of course, there are no really simple answers to these questions unless you just choose to accept a simpleton’s outlook on the subject and don’t want to do the hard life’s work of thinking and sorting things out from YOUR perspective and experiences. In my view, a mind is a terrible thing to waste…but many of us do…on a daily basis. I do some days…and abhor it.

What seems to be some of the biggest perplexities for our existence is sorting out “good and bad”, “right and wrong”. Most of the world’s religions and a huge percentage of the world’s literature is focused on explaining and instructing us what “right and wrong” is. I embrace the idea that we should read as much history as possible…as long as it is verifiable…to get instruction on the cause and effect of right and wrong decisions. I don’t think life has to be as complicated as we humans try to make it. I think two plus two equals four now…just as much as it did thousands of years ago. Once a human mind understands those core mathematics I think he is able to deduce logically most any issue or decision needed in his daily life. Of course as life goes on the equations become more complicated. We have many more choices to make…and we start understanding the gravity of our choices.

In some cases people get frozen in fear and intimidation to make decisions for themselves…because they start understanding the gravity of making the wrong ones. And somehow most humans eventually learn to “pass the buck” and not make any decisions for themselves, preferring the “safer” route of letting their families, religions or governments make most of their determinations in life for them. Instead of questioning, doubting or making bold changes, most humans simply fold under the pressure of the majority…living for the “greater good”, whatever that means. These people will never solve the puzzle of life or get where they want to…because their math is faulty and they refuse to go back and analyze or fix where they went wrong in the equation. I personally was not a good math student…but life has revealed to me that you can’t move forward sometimes until you backtrack and take note of where you went wrong…and learn from it.

Now that I have lived over half of a century…which really is insignificant in the light of time and space of this world…I feel I have a small glimpse of cause and effect and its effect on our continual evolution. I have been lucky to be born in a place and time where I was taught and encouraged to read and think. I was encouraged to be adventurous and try new things. Compared to most people, I have probably become an addict to adventure and change. Time will tell whether that was a good or bad thing…but for the moment let’s call it “good”. Even us simpletons (compared to many intellects I have read or observed, I feel like a simpleton) have our, as Gomer Pyle would put it…, ”Shazaam” moments. You know…those moments when a thought or experience totally jolts you into a new awareness or changes your direction in life?

One of those fundamental “Shazaam” moments in my thinking is realizing the freedom we each have to choose that which is “good”. I’m not talking about some “subjective” good, or some innocuous, flighty fantasy or bland utopia. I’m talking about objective cause and effect choices we make every day at most every moment with every person we intersect with. The “power of one” I often write about is that choice to be positive or negative. To be confirming or critical. To notice the beauty or the ugly. To notice difference or commonality.

We have this inverse or maybe even perverse way of thinking where we live for distinction and independence, fame and fortune…and yet most of our thinking and actions are about “fitting in” or “being accepted by others”. We have the need for individuality, yet we also have a craving for acceptance and love from others. I actually see these dichotomies as the “poetry in motion” of life. How do I find the balance of pleasing myself and pleasing others?

I actually think this cause and effect is most evident in parental relationships with your own families. On one hand, you want to have a lot in common…and see shared values…among those you live with. You want your kids to have the same advantages or MORE than you had. You want them to be a “chip off the old block”…yet, you also want to see and support distinction. You want to take pride that your kid or your friend is the BEST at something…yet you also want them to understand or participate in what is meaningful to YOU. I think the hardest thing to do in life is learn to let go and accept difference with those you love the most. Or to accept distance from someone you USED to be very close with. These are the human tragedies that we all grow up experiencing…and reliving constantly through our movies and soap operas. It is this constant conflict between intimacy and loneliness. Desiring to be attached to something or someone…and the next minute wishing you could have some time alone and just focus on YOU. Life is full of these conflicts and choices…some of our choosing and some that simply confront us whether we want them there or not.

As I consider my friends and family who have influence in my life and then try to understand at a higher level the relationship between God and Man…I think there are some interesting parallels to contemplate. Much of my imagination about who I am and what I think comes from those I grew up with in my formative years. I can no more cut that out of “me” than I can cut off some part of my body that I may or may not necessarily appreciate. Even in my limited knowledge of genetics and evolution, it seems obvious to me that cause and effect of where we live, with whom and what activities we choose determine much of our physical and mental makeup. If we eat to access without adequate balancing physical activity, we are going to get fat. If we obsess about any particular person, religion, sport or activity…our identities, minds and conversations are going to have limited breadth or appeal to the broad range of the human race or our own personal growth in understanding. It’s hard to find that balance between “specialization” and “generalization”…but who we are and who we become are all about the decisions we make in that balancing equation.

Wow…how do I sum up all of these thoughts? Basically what I am trying to say here is that the power we have in life to grow and evolve is dependent on our choices. We can choose that which makes us independent or dependent. We can choose to believe what we want to believe…whether it agrees with our human reasoning and those around us…or not. If we see ourselves as simply a “cog in the wheel”, that is probably what we will be. If we see ourselves in the driver’s seat of life, we will probably do the driving. If we are content to ride along…we will just be a passenger…and have no responsibility for where we end up. Not everybody can drive and not everybody can ride…and I am growing to think that is OK. It has to be ok…because that is the way it is based on “cause and effect”. Not everybody has learned to “drive their own bus”.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Its the climb...

(version en espanol... )

OK...don't laugh at me, but I stumbled upon this Miley Cyrus video today and LOVED the song. While I might prefer hearing Sting or maybe Beyonces voices on it...a good song is a good song. The lyrics were the best thing...

That dream I am dreaming
But there's a voice inside my head saying
"You'll never reach it"

Every step I'm taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

'Cause there's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody's gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It's all about, it's all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith

This song is written by someone who understands some of my personal philosophical criteria. Life is full of conflicts, highs and lows, good luck mixed with bad luck, and running into a mixture of good and bad people. Often times it seems just as we were going to "arrive" in life to some fulfilled dream or destination, something happens to take us down a few steps. Many of us never find total contentedness or satisfaction in our accomplishments or experiences. The more we have, the more we want. The more we achieve, the more we want to achieve.

This past couple of years has been very tough on many of us. Many friends and family members have lost jobs, lost their houses to financial devastation, or lost loved ones more permanently. A song like this one represents to me the motivation and meaning in overcoming our obstacles and pain. No matter our age or position in life...we each have options on how we are going to view or react to life's circumstances.

I have been fortunate in my life to have many examples of people close to me who exemplify overcoming heartache and disappointment...or financial ruin...and finding a way to rise/climb above the pain and disappointment to live even better, more meaningful lives. It seems to me the first challenge is having a vision or goal. I get concerned when I ask people what their goals or objectives are and I see that "deer in the headlights" look in their eyes.

The key to living life to the fullest in my experience is keeping your focus on your dreams and ambitions and an open mind. Problems or hardships should be looked at as challenges or signs to go a different direction. If there is no new direction evident, we just have to find a way to climb over those obstacles. If we think and do hard enough...we will find a way. And the joy will be..."the climb".

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Latest Religious Wars

There is a significant conflict brewing over the establishment of a Mosque near the site of the former "World Trade Towers" taken out by terrorism in 2001. There is spin on both sides of this equation. There are extreme views that America is a "Christian" nation though I have yet to see any writing in the constitution...or more importantly, actions over our nations history...that support that designation. I had always thought America was established by people and groups who were escaping state sponsored religion in favor of freedom to worship God as they individually saw fit.

It also seems insensitive on the part of the estimated 7 million Muslims in America to desire a Mosque at that location. Perhaps their motive is to establish the fact that they too lost many followers in that terrorist act and share in mourning. Perhaps their motive is to underline their constitutional rights to peacefully practice their religion as US citizens equal to any other American. I don't know their motivations...and not sure any commentators I have read or heard on this issue do either. Yet, the beauty of my country used to be at least in theory that all religions and cultures rights were protected, even those in the minority. We have not always practiced that...but it was the ideal our country was built on.

I may be naive, but I don't see religious or political war over these isms to be the answer. I don't see American style Christianity as the nations religion, and I don't think the original Christian would have fought Communism and Jihadists with military solutions or drawing geographic borders. The origins of Christianity was community building through peaceful means and messaging tied to ideas and actions based on faith that were not exclusive or "membership" oriented. Yes, there was a call for decision on which "teacher" was to be followed, but it was not about religious institutions or campaigns as we know them today.

I think the fears or symbolism of Mosques at ground zero are taking away from the main issue or conversation. Its interesting that even the Jewish mayor Bloomberg is supportive of that project. While in principle there should be no government or religion supported building at ground zero, I believe that America's commercialism and constitution will continue to water down extremism on all sides of the religious equation. Build a Christian or Jewish church next to the Mosque...and let people decide which they want to identify with or completely ignore. Better yet, why not a "mall" of religious locations representing all the main religions of America? If they have the money to buy that property...anyone should be able to do whatever they want with it as long as it is not against the Constitutional rights of the rest of society. It won't make much difference in the next 100 years of the human condition. People will continue to use "God" and religious symbols to bolster their rationalizations on life and liberty. Meanwhile, secularization will continue to dominate the masses even if their underpinnings are religious in nature.

Life in reality is more about Maslovs heirarchy of needs than what it says in the Bible or the Quran. My hope is that in time the true message of the founder of Christianity will be realized and that the brotherhood of man will finally begin its reconciliation one to the other. Religion overall has had a dismal performance record on this.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The battle of "Good" and "Evil"

I grew up being taught that life in this world is underpinned by an invisible spiritual battle between forces of good and evil...God and the Devil...or even the lower and higher natures within each of us. My experience in life has taken me to a little different understanding of this issue...

The battle of good and evil carries on at many different levels. I'm not sure the forces are so "invisible" as many religions portend. I think most of the battle is for the MIND...the intellect. We humans are still trying to overcome MILLENNIUMS of manipulation and dark thinking. For me, bad/evil spirits and forces come from bad/evil thinking and manipulation. It usually is manipulation by the rich of the poor, the rulers over the governed, or simply the educated over the non. All of these backgrounds go together at some level to create good and evil, dark and light, freedom or oppression, right versus wrong. "As a man so thinketh in his is he". Unfortunately most people have multi-generations of wrong thinking in their backgrounds and in their hearts. That can best change when we are young. After age 40 or aren't going to change much of anyone's way of thinking...or believing. We are positive or negative, bitter or sweet, hopeful or fatalistic...usually based on our genetic and environmental backgrounds/upbringing. From that understanding we need to view and understand our differences and those opposed to our views. It also helps us understand why negotiations between leaders older than 50 years old will rarely create much change or flexibility in viewpoints or position. Wars and religions are perpetuated by these extreme traditions of finding difference instead of commonality. We need to shed these layers of history and "cultural" (mis)understandings before we can truly embrace and welcome everyone into the brotherhood of man.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lessons from the latest investment guru

I am encouraged today with the reading of this article on the latest investment guru/genius, Li Lu. This 44 year old Chinese survivor of the Tianamen Square protests has gone on to be one of the most successful hedge fund managers and heir apparent to Warren Buffet at Berkshire Hathaway!

Some lessons and analogies I take away from this great story are:

The power of the human spirit to overcome adversity and personal devastation to learn and thrive in the world at large. Mr. Lu was an orphan and at one point in his life lost most of those closest to him in a massive earthquake in China. The more crap life threw at him, the tougher and more determined he became.

Sometimes it is better to escape than to stand and fight. It seems obvious to me that the key to his freedom and success was to ESCAPE the repressive regime in China and pursue his personal freedoms. More and more people are on the move globally today looking for that personal freedom and sovereignty to compete and profit without hyper levels of institutional interference and robbery of both intellect and financial resources.

Mind over seems obvious to me that Mr. Lu used his natural intelligence and will to overcome his circumstances. People who overcome and succeed without the "silver spoon" are usually sharper and better equipped to make momentous decisions than those who grow up "spoiled, fat and content".

Risk/Reward...this man has chosen to take tremendous risks to get where he is in his short 44 years. While it sounds like he has made some great connections and had big people helping him...I'm sure they did not do so blindly or simply altruistically. Li Lu has had great failures before his successes...again an example of overcoming disappointment when your risky moves don't turn out. Like any great hunter, if you reload and aim again.

Use your knowledge and past experience. It seems this man has made his greatest "hits" with investments back in his Chinese homeland. How ironic that the country he rejected and rejected him has become his greatest, most profitable investment so far.

I think Mr Lu's example can be embraced by many of us Americans in this day and age. We are living in an era of increased government activism and encroachment on individual rights and freedoms. Many of us are being financially devastated by an economy run amok by government and financial institutions that have lost their moral conscience when it comes to self direction/responsibility and free enterprise. Our system is in decline and I personally believe America will someday have its own version of "Tianaman Square". Any of us who can maintain our dignity and sovereignty during these times of standing "against the odds" have the potential to turn things least for ourselves. If we don't save ourselves first, we will not be there to help anyone else. Martyrdom is a highly over-rated concept. Mr Lu's story tells us that sometimes in order to thrive, we must escape the prisons of our own environments first. That is something a majority of the world never considers...therefore never does.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We love the gore of human tragedy

Online and traditional news is totally cluttered with the filth and stench of human frailty and fallen state of existence. Personally I am real tired of filtering through the "news" items related to Mel Gibson's latest cellphone tirades to his new ex girlfriend over custody of his EIGHTH child. Why are people like this even HAVING children? Especially with the equivalent of what I deem a high priced Russian call girl who also has a child by actor Timothy Dalton. Why do I even know that level of detail about these strangers? I know more about them than my immediate family's personal lives. How sad.

Unfortunately there is obvious appeal and strong drive towards voyeurism within our human race. It seems easier to "live through other people" than to live our own lives and adventures. I think perhaps it has a lot to do with guilt and self denial. We humans have created so many rules and regulations for living that we can only find pleasure and lust in voyeuristic activities. It is safer and more satisfying for many people to watch porn than to have fulfilling sex lives of their own. And these little people we call "movie stars" play the game by pushing their drivel and personal lives on us as if we are a grand virtual audience intent upon watching their every move...or eaves dropping on every digital conversation.

Then again I have to realize that this is just another version of old habits in humanity. Society has hung for centuries on rumors and manipulation of class differences. The rich live in their own clusters/communities comparing who has what and who's "zooming who" while the poor lap up all the soap operaish fables of the poor maid ending up with the rich land baron or doctor. It sometimes happens, but mostly on TV. Now all of this is pushed to us through media and the internet...all connected by computers and cellphones. A growing number of people are addicted to their "Blackberries", unable to disconnect from the drivel for even a one hour business meeting. It quite honestly drives me nuts as I still try to do business by meeting people face to face...and I can't compete with the new i-phones for keeping people's attention and focus. Nope...I still don't have an i-phone or blackberry PIN. For the first time in technology development I am dragging BEHIND the curve because of the fear of affecting my lifestyle and tranquility each day. Plus, it is just another way that Mel and Oksana can push their way into my daily consciousness.