I have little idea about real sacrifice


Just finished the series The Pacific. What a powerful demonstration of courage, and commitment, and pride, and hate, and chaos. May we never have to go to such extents ever again.

And while peace is always the first, second, and third route of problem resolution, when it comes time to use deadly force and be put in harm’s way, it’s our soldiers who make the sacrifice. And they continue to fight in our current war as we sit in the comfort of our cities.

I have gratitude for this, despite all the problems that come with the United States’ policing the world.

I have little idea about real sacrifice, and I doubt most of us ever will.

I knew I was talking to a fascist


Fascism….Some group trying to control others using rules based on their authority.

It can come from the Left. It can come from the Right.

It can come from any religion..except maybe Buddhism, or Taoism…

It can come from those who are angry and shouting, or smiling and quiet.

But it always comes from those who want to take action against you, or prevent your personal action. It always comes from someone who is well-intentioned, and wants to help.

It always comes from a sense of great pride that they know what’s better for you and everyone else.

Keep your head on a swivel for these selfish hypocrites.

Because these Authorities of Virtue can wear whatever color uniform.

They can hold whatever flag. They don whichever religious garb. What determines their value is whether they want to empower you… or take power from you.

Instead, have your own code.  And always stand up for it.

But don’t push it too far, because there might come a day when you’ll look down and notice you’re wearing a uniform.

And maybe you’re holding a flag. You might even be shouting down others with your group’s chant. Because you’ve gone so far and become so convinced. And now you don’t believe they have a right to their point of view to even speak it.  Or others to hear it.

And that’s when you might realize that you’ve become a fascist, too.

That’s my pecker

He said it proudly. His accent was a thick Russian, and that annoyed me as well.

The three men, his “peckers”, nodded to me, avoiding making eye contact, no surprise, and took their seats in front of the monitors.

What are they doing? I asked.

“Their job,” the man answered glibly. This irritated me and before I could mask it, the irritation manifested into a narrowing of my eyes.

“They look fucking autistic.” I said.

“They’re professionals,” the man was unphased. “but if they’re distracted from their focus, they can be…erratic.”

“They don’t know the objective,” I said.

The man looked surprised, “You need to find the spread of a virus.”

I shook my head, the irritation rising a grade to exasperation. “It’s not a virus…It’s-”

“Malware… we understand,” the man interrupted.

“No,” I said. “You’re not listening.” Fucking men. No patience. All assumption. “It’s not like anything you’ve seen before, anyone’s seen before.”

I saw his face grow the self-assured look of someone who had heard this kind of decree before. I went on, but choose my words carefully, not wanting to bruise his male ego.

“Your men’s job is detection. And they’re the best at it.” I saw his eyes soften. “But this isn’t a virus, or a bug.”

He was expressionless, So what is it? he asked. I went on:

This.. is… a predator. It probes for its target, it doesn’t get run, like a program. It’s dropped into an environment and it self-executes. There is no lag, there is no latency. This has an infinite timeline, it is chronic.”

The man was listening intently. And his peckers had turned and were listening intently as well. After a moment, one spoke of it

“And this predator has evolved. Its scope has grown to all industrial controls… Water, Electric, transportation. And it has the payload to take these control systems down.”

This evolved predator evolved from Stuxnet, a worm developed by the US and Israeli governments that targeted machine controls to cause the machine to malfunction. It was deployed in 2009 and 2010 to cause the Iranian centrifuges in their uranium enrichment facility to spin out of control and explode.

Here’re the interesting parts: The worm was causing direct damage in the real world and it didn’t need internet network connectivity to jump between machines to infect them. The worm’s code was changed by the Israeli’s to be more aggressive and it resulted in it being discovered by the Iranians, and worse still, it led to the worm spreading to computer systems all over the world, including the US, where Homeland Security spent resources trying to protect the US from the worm it helped create.

And a computer predator the US created has escaped again. Today, and affected transportation systems and hospitals. When will we learn how to contain these digital weapons we create? When the damage it does is too great to ignore. Until then….

Beware of Skynet.

Electing tyrants

beer hot tub

He is usually of the elite but has a nature in tune with the time — given over to random pleasures and whims, feasting on plenty of food and sex, and reveling in the nonjudgment that is democracy’s civil religion.

He makes his move by “taking over a particularly obedient mob” and attacking his wealthy peers as corrupt. If not stopped quickly, his appetite for attacking the rich on behalf of the people swells further. He is a traitor to his class — and soon, his elite enemies, shorn of popular legitimacy, find a way to appease him or are forced to flee.

Eventually, he stands alone, promising to cut through the paralysis of democratic incoherence. It’s as if he were offering the addled, distracted, and self-indulgent citizens a kind of relief from democracy’s endless choices and insecurities. He rides a backlash to excess—“too much freedom seems to change into nothing but too much slavery” — and offers himself as the personified answer to the internal conflicts of the democratic mess.

He pledges, above all, to take on the increasingly despised elites. And as the people thrill to him as a kind of solution, a democracy willingly, even impetuously, repeals itself.


Life penetration


Most of us could easily compile a list of goals we want to achieve or personal problems that need to be solved. But what is the real significance of every item on such a list?

Everything we want to accomplish—to paint the house, learn a new language, find a better job—is something that promises that, if done, it would allow us to finally relax and enjoy our lives in the present.  Generally speaking, this is a false hope.

I’m not denying the importance of achieving one’s goals, maintaining one’s health, or keeping one’s children clothed and fed—but most of us spend our time seeking happiness and security without acknowledging the underlying purpose of our search.

Each of us is looking for a path back to the present:

We are trying to find good enough reasons to be satisfied now.

Sam Harris

A woman’s place in society

In the basement of the brewpub there was a collection of enthusiastic youth from the university.  The graduate students were reading their favorite poet’s work, and one caught my ear. It was talking about penis.

“Is he reading from a female author or male author?” I asked a young woman nearby.

“Female,” she replied.

“Hmm. I’m kind of surprised,” I said. “I thought it would be a male.”
She gave me a look, “That’s sexist.” she said.

I started to explain myself.  “Well, I mean, I thought a man would be more likely to know about the penis…” I was about to explain that although I had deep and meaningful experiences with vaginas, I still wouldn’t feel comfortable writing a piece focused on what it’s like having the organ. But she had started looking elsewhere.

Later I thought, “Was what I said sexist?” Sexism is prejudging the person based on their sex… Like if you think a woman is better at raising a baby, or a man is better at being a soldier.

So what I had said was sexist, because I thought it more likely a man would be talking about a penis than a female…which thinking more on it, perhaps females talk about dick as much as men. I sincerely hope they do anyway…

In her New Yorker article, Jai Tolentino rightly observes the importance of furthering the feminist cause beyond the complaining.  She directs us on how to distance from the individualist and capitalist culture. Why individualism and capitalism? That’s a good question. And it that reveals what makes feminism uniquely female.

Feminism comes from being female (There is no other way to frame it, by definition). Therefore, it must come to be recognized that the female spirit is different from the male spirit. Not at odds, but different. The feminine is here to complement and balance the male’s tendency, which, Jai describes, as being for individualism and capitalism, ie owning things, buying and selling things, making things.

Individualism and capitalism are not automatically bad things. Individualism taken too far prevents a community from working together. Capitalism with only profit as the goal leaves a task that is without joy.

Asking Why females should try to distance society from individualism and capitalism uncovers our true natures: The nurturing, sensitive, relationship-building, maintenance-mindset of the female. And the male nature that is less personal, less sensitive, and more about economy and production.

These are generalizations, but they are from scientific studies that show the sexes are indeed different in their emotional IQ’s and their ability to relate to others in social interactions: Females simply connect better than males. Their ability to empathize makes them better nurturers. The male’s lack of empathy makes them better killers. (Look at prison populations and this becomes immediately apparent)

As Jai stated in her article, feminism should not favor female individual empowerment within the current patriarchal system.  This leads to the endless chase of high incomes and thoughtless accumulation of wealth. In pointing feminists away from this male, capitalistic paradigm, it clearly differentiates women from men, and counters the error of many feminists, who, in their effort for equality, have fallen into making the sexes the same.

The responsibility of feminists is to use their special spirit to improve society. And this larger scope goes beyond complaints of men’s negative influence on society, but in bringing the value of women into society. 

And so we come to the How to bring this change about, which Jai noted. Merely complaining about the paternal foundation of society doesn’t address how to address this obvious reality.  There is a feminine power that women must bring to bear in their partnership with men. And paradoxically, in order to be heard, women must gain the individualistic strength to force their message of soft power.

“Listen to us,” is clear, but ineffective. “Listen to us, because we have something to add to a society which has become focused on accumulation and growth instead of the quality of relationships and building your communities.”