Is this what they fought for?

Many of you went to bed last night dreaming of dresses you saw on The Grammy’s or of the bizarre sight of NFL players chasing down members of their own team.

Either way, while a good portion of the world slept, the Egyptian army fired live rounds at young democracy protestors.  Note that this wasn’t a group of Muslim Brotherhood members; but university students of the same category as those who disposed of Hosni Mubarak three years ago.  Today we also learned that General Sisi (I stopped using the term Field Marshall to describe active ranks in 1946) has the approval of the army to run for president.  So what does that mean in today’s Arab world?  General Sisi is the next president of Egypt.

So if you were a student dodging small arms fire yesterday how would you feel as you went to sleep?  Well, I gather about the same as a pro-democracy campaigner in Damascus, a trade union affiliate in South Africa, or a human rights crusader in Burma.

As I look at history I am drawn to two inescapable conclusions regarding these matters:

1)  Most revolutions, rebellions, & uprisings are ultimately hijacked by assholes who care only for their own self-interest and/or enrichment.

2)  If democracy is the pinnacle of human government, it is also the hardest to achieve.

Want to do away with a dictator?  Want freedom, justice, and the good way of life?  Well, don’t we all.  If you live in a country that does not possess these things you can either escape or prepare for the long haul.

Magna Carta is eight centuries old and the British republic is still under development.  At the other end, there are probably turtles older than the American constitution.  Some countries with absolutely no precedent of it, like Japan, figured it out relatively quickly.  Look at any of these countries’ history and I offer that the road was hard, awful, and it took a really long time.  Everybody wants to be free; but be prepared to earn it, it takes forever.

And so I offer just a few points for those in Ukraine who are just getting things kicked off.  Call them little reminders you should bear in mind as you dodge tear gas, rubber bullets, Satan, mad cow disease, live rounds, and generally hope what you’re doing matters:

1)  Look to your left, and then to your right.  Odds are one of them is a criminal who does not care about your cause and is just there for kicks.  The other one is a coward who is wrapped up in the moment and will be gone by next week.

2)  Your opposition leaders are just as bad as the people you’re kicking out.  If you think once they’re in power that you can change the rules of the game, you’ll quickly find out the game is the same, just with different players.

3)  The international community does not care about you or your cause and will not lift a finger to aid you.  You’re going to have to do it on your own.

4)  Your country does not possess the institutions necessary to support liberty.  You’re going to have to build them over decades while at every turn people will battle you to maintain the status quo.

5)  If you mean it, then this is your life’s work.  Not a few months on the streets.  You’re going to have to fight, every day, for the rest of your life.  Always watchful, vigilant, and brawling for a better tomorrow.  Even if you succeed, it’ll be a grinding, tough life.  All you can do is hope by your sacrifice that later generations will live the freedom you have bought them.  And maybe if you’re lucky and good at it, you’ll get a little taste of it before you check out.

Do you find these conditions unappealing?  Then stay home.

thejob

Hardest job on the planet after Bear Baiter.

Syria – This circus tent needs to collapse

This blog will address Syria in greater detail later.  Suffice to say, this is a complicated issue that Jesus would have trouble solving.  And he’s freaking Jesus!  I know what also won’t solve it though, the international diplomacy racket.

Let’s say you’re a Syrian army solider, a rebel, and/or a civilian in the back streets of an Aleppo suburb.  The army just conducted another mortar strike on the apartment block next to the market.  The rebels are trying to get the next shipment of rockets up before the army rolls in the heavy armor.  But it really doesn’t matter if they get the gear up in time, because the entire neighborhood is trashed so they’ll fight meter-for-meter anyways.  If the civilians are still there it’s because they have nowhere else to go.  Everybody’s exhausted, oh, and they’re all probably starving too.  Happy new year, Earth.

Now if this was your reality, would you think what happens in Geneva is important?  For these people, Geneva might as well be the third planet from Arcturus and the Arcturans are arguing over who stole the krypton from the office mess kitty.  Friends, you’ve got to understand, Yan-rek likes the powdered krypton right where he left it.  How else is he to find it in the morning before he’s had his first cup?

Since nobody has an answer for Syria, you might say this conference is at least worth a shot because it can’t possibly do more harm than good.  Well, if you think this, you’re an idiot.  When the attention of all these politicians is on a conference that can’t possibly accomplish a damn thing, I guarantee you there’s something else that isn’t getting done.  Like how five million refugees are going to get fed for the next few years?  Oh, by the way, the UN doesn’t have enough cash for them all.  The Geneva hotel budget alone could probably feed the country for a week though, but who cares.

Friends, this is another topic we’ll hit later.  What I consider the blatant incompetent narcissism of the international diplomatic community.  They all actually think this is important, that they can accomplish something.  If you want to know what it looked like when diplomats were so useless that World War One got started, I think it was something like this.  I’m sure a lot of them are genuinely good people who are trying to do the right thing, but sorry, they’ve already failed before it started.

“Wednesday’s initial meeting, involving speeches from 40 or so foreign ministers – has now ended. The direct talks are scheduled to begin in Geneva on Friday.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25836827

Yes, friends, forty.  Forty foreign ministers.

But it’s okay because the real talks are still two days away.  Cue cash-register sounds for Geneva hotelier.

Oh, and it would appear once again Ban Ki-moon has shown he is not in touch with reality:

“At a fractious evening news conference, during which there were repeated calls for calm, Mr Ban spoke of the suffering in Syria, saying: ‘Enough is enough. The time has come to negotiate.’

Uh, Ban, he’s killed like over a hundred-thousand people.  I don’t think he’s interested in talking.  Maybe you could ask his foreign minister that over the ten-thousand dollar a plate dinner tonight?

Again, there’s no easy answer here.  But let’s at least be honest to those people in Aleppo.  If Ban isn’t saying this:

“Enough is enough. The time has come to negotiate.  Stop the killing by close of business, Friday.  If you don’t, we’ll destroy you and your regime.”

Then nothing is going to change.

morons

“We’re all fucking useless!”

Ask, and the skeleton will always tell you what he thinks

This last week I took a mandatory class in what was essentially a business process system.  Did I mention the word mandatory?  I did not want to take this class.  I resisted, told them I didn’t need it, would never use it.  But a few months back I was invited into the office by the boss.

Upon entry the boss locked the door and I found the section supervisor was in the corner wearing a ski mask.  He’s an odd guy but this struck me as a little weird.  I tried to discuss my latest action plan but they shoved my head onto the desk and put a revolver to my temple.  “You’ll go!”  “Sign it!”  They screamed.  I cried.  I soiled myself.  Thought of who would take care of my dogs, but over the course of a mind melting twenty minutes I enthusiastically agreed that a week-long class on this business process was well within the best interests of the organization.  And myself!  So off I went, happy as ever.

The class was not the misery I expected it to be, but two things stuck out:

1)  Attended by dozens of people from a dozen different organizations.  All are supposed to use this business process.  None of them do.  Everybody just ignores it and does whatever the fuck they want.  It’s the height of organizational stupidity.  People are probably making billions off a system that is so irrelevant, folks will spends weeks, months, years to learn it down to the smallest detail, but then nobody uses it to conduct real work.

2)  What the fuck is up with all the business worker pictures?  You know what I’m talking about.  They’re all the same.  Here is an example for those of you who have real jobs and actually contribute something worthwhile to humanity and thus don’t know what I’m talking about:

oxygenthiefs

“We’re oxygen thieves!”

Some optimistic folks have this hundred year rule to describe the pointless nature of life.  As in, who the fuck cares, in a hundred years we’ll all be dead.  It’s like remarking to your neighbor the weather is nice today, before you ask him what color you think his skeleton will be after six years in the drink.

I’ve found this rule a rather poor way of looking at things.  If we all truly believed it, then why aren’t humans feasting upon each other’s flesh in the streets?  You might think I’d be the first person to claim it’s the giant octopus keeping us all under control.  But I’m going to go more along the lines that what we are built inside of goes a little deeper, it’s quite special.

So I have a different way of looking at the darkness.  It gets to the depths of servitude, you know, the kind that wastes human life and aptitude; robs us of our ingenuity and drive.  It’s not in our base nature, we just do it to ourselves.

Anybody ever walked to work via an underground mall and/or subway tunnel before?  At like seven in the morning; say about four-thousand of your best friends trudging their way across concrete on the way to the elevators, escalators, stairs, transporter room; on the way to their cubicles, boxes, corner offices, whatever.  It’s like you’re adrift in a sea of rotting human meat, all of it floating along into the vortex.  Nobody says a word.  All you hear is the mindless clicking of thousands of shoes and heels.

When I see those business pictures, that’s what I think of.  You know what?  I’d rather they put the skeleton up there during the business discussion.  At least that’d be honest.

richardandhisteam

“Are you up to speed on your latest metric quals?”

Sochi 2014 – There’s only one child here, Vladimir

I may hammer away at Sochi, but you just can’t let this stuff go. One of my greatest problems with today’s international community is moral cowardice. More on say, Syria, later. That’s a crisis that is probably too hard for the world to solve. But what made the world participate in Sochi?

A good chunk of the globe’s leadership is staying away from the games and that’s good, but it’s not enough. Where are the world leaders telling Uncle Vladimir he’s a fucking idiot? Well, they either don’t care, or they don’t want to ruffle Vlad’s feathers because their athletes are on the way. I’m voting that it’s both.

Either way, if the modern planet won’t stand up for its values, who will? Satan? Hitler’s ghost? Maybe Winston Churchill and George Washington will rise from the dead to claim Vladimir’s soul in an orgy of red misty violence. Now that’s an Olympic event worth watching.

At least Putin tells us what he thinks. We’d all be a lot better off if politicians spoke their minds more often. In today’s machine engineered media, five misplaced words can destroy a human’s career. So now, anything that is said is suspect. This is not healthy for a culture that we all hope is built upon things like free speech.

I think one of the reasons people tend to favor the likes of Chris Christie, Boris Johnson, and Joe Biden, even if they substantially disagree with their policies, is that all of these men say what’s on their minds. People find it refreshing to hear from a leader who, you know, leads, and treats the voter with enough respect to be honest. Even if they sometimes roundhouse kick themselves in the mouth.

Disagree with me? Well how about this. Can we all agree it’s usually not a good idea for our leaders to lie? Why yes! Well, I submit that when a leader says only things that are vetted through a team of twelve interns and public relations slime, it’s equivalent to lying. Either way the public doesn’t get the truth. So don’t take this the wrong way, I don’t want Putin to shut up, I want him to say more. But I also want our leaders to speak their minds too. Try this delight on for size:

Putin: I hate fags, they are immoral.

Merkel: You’re wrong Vladimir. You’re a bigot and a dictator and this shows it. People are free to determine their own lives.

Obama: Yes, I agree, there’s a reason you keep saying these things.

Putin: But…

Cameron: No, they’re right. All you want to do is distract people from the rotten state of your shitty leadership. We have values and morals, you’re just an asshole.

Abe: Yes, a total piece of rat feces.

Putin: #d8c^kk!!!

But instead, all we get is this:

“You can feel free in your relationships but leave children in peace.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25785161

Followed by silence.

This coming from a man who authorized the use of fuel air explosives in an urban environment when it was pretty clear to everyone that civilians, including a lot of children, were hiding in basements.

As you’re enjoying the figure staking, make sure to remember that Sochi is about 300 miles from Grozny. And then bask in the deafening silence of cowardice from your leadership.

nicetalk

Don’t obey, trust your soul,

So I recently engaged in business travel to the third Buddhist enlightenment level of Anagami. How did it go? Well folks, I’m back here so that should answer your selfish question. Let’s just say you can’t do anything anymore without getting bombarded with an advertisement generated by tentacle version 45.1b of the blessed octopus.

Once upon a time you could count on the ability to sit down under the Bodhi tree and chart your own path as a future non-returner. Now you have to endure such always delicious scenery as: “This journey to the next realm brought to you by Tata Motors. Tata, driving you toward the inner reaches of your soul!”

If you think I’m being silly, you just wait. You’ll hear this before 2090:

“This third and six brought to you by Tide. Tide, cleaning out the goal-line defense of your hard stains.”

Anyways.

While on my journey I naturally participated in the ever-present fiction known as air travel security. While seated before the departure gate along with two thousand of my best friends, I noticed that just a few seats over was a stack of suitcases and a baby stroller. All by themselves, unattended.

So what did I do? Nothing. I sat there. Now if that was a weaponized baby stroller I was so close they’d have picked up what was left of me using refined dental tools. But of course, the owners of said luggage were off getting themselves and their baby some water and showed up later, armageddon thus averted.

So why did I do nothing when the security and control bureaucracy demands that I immediately report the situation to my local enforcer? Well friends, here’s the kicker, and I want you to try this the next time you travel. Because chances are you already have, even if you didn’t notice.

Everybody does nothing.

People leave their luggage at the bar, in the bathroom, down by the newspaper kiosk, next to the cult religion display, with the creepy smiley guy, and so on.

The only person taking airport security seriously anymore is Satan. This is the reality of it.

Now granted, both the good & bad guys have decided to make the airways a battlefield. So there is that. I mean, why do the terrorists go through all the trouble to build an underwear bomb for months when an eighteen year old recruit with a $300 shotgun, which they could buy in almost any democracy today, could cause more damage in a shopping mall than all the airline attacks of the last decade? Each side has chosen this stupid insanity.

The real secret is that the bad guys lost. Friends, there will be an airline attack down the road. It’s going to happen, we’re all human. But the battle is over, good won. Your neighbor knows it. If he didn’t, he’d report that abandoned bag in the terminal, as I would have done.

In the meantime, where does that leave your friendly traveler? Well, I offer this. If by some miracle thirty years down the road we suffer no airport attacks, do you think your local airport security guys will lessen their burden? Of course not.

Once you hand over this level of power and control, it’s hard to get it back. Don’t blame the guards who will harass you over your shoes. Blame yourselves. In general, I firmly believe the employees of an organization will perform with the dedication and skill that is expected of them by their superiors. Today when the guards care so little of the “threat” they barely even notice you as you go through the checkpoint, you need only point a finger at yourself.

You wanted to be safe. In exchange you received it, now live with the consequences. As for me, I’m going with my gut. I’ll take the risk. I’m leaving this realm via dental tools & evidence bags before I’ll accept we’re done forever. I’ll take that risk, and that bet. My life is worth your freedom. I don’t mean to be an arrogant shit, right now at least, but if we all thought that way we’d be better off.
ProperPlanning

This Actually Happens

The vortex isn’t the weather

I heard something at work yesterday that took my attention away from my usual morning stroll through ancient medieval alchemy texts (I need gold). A middle-aged co-worked had to stay home as they’d closed school due to the polar vortex. He had to watch his kids but could have come to work otherwise. By the way, for those who do not subscribe to media generated mass hysteria, a polar vortex is also known as very cold weather.

Now perhaps my memory is flawed (certainty), but I cannot recall a single occasion from childhood where my parents remained home to watch us via closed schools when they could have gone to work. I suspect this is because if it was bad enough to close school, they also physically could not get to work.

In today’s bubble-wrapped world, schools are closed if it’s cold, icy, rainy, snowy, sleepy, blimp attack, etc. There are any number of reasons why: liability, liability, cultural weakness, liability, kids bribe their school boards with fancy candy, and so on.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming I’m in favor of placing children in a situation where their school bus enters Valhalla via the side of your local covered bridge. Nobody wants to put children in danger, but perhaps we’ve gone a bit too far. Kids are supposed to learn shit in school right? I think? So what lesson are we teaching them if it’s a little (or a lot of) cold out and they get to stay home and play mind-melting video games.

Another childhood memory of mine is standing at the bus stop; alone with the other children; in temperatures well below zero. As a kid you do not forget that kind of cold. But school was open. And our parents just bundled us up and kicked us out the door; all of us without exception; like twenty young kids.

And so I ask you, how would this play out today? If the schools were open (which they would not be), I bet every single parent would drive their kid to the bus stop and wait with them in the hot car until the bus got there. Is this a problem? I’ll let you decide.

polarvortex

Actual Polar Vortex

Channel your inner Deke!

Image

I guess I don’t really understand the problem.  Dennis Rodman is apparently the new Hitler because he has taken money to play basketball from a megalomaniacal psychopath, who also happens to be the dictator of North Korea.

But the media that condemns him takes money all the time.  They’ve got to pay the gas bill like everybody else, I  think.  Charlie Rose interviewed an equally abhorrent piece of human feces known as Bashar Assad.  Rose gushed about how this was one of the key events of his life.  Does anybody think Charlie did that interview for free?  Maybe Charlie is so much more awesome and cultured than you & I that money is beneath him?  But I doubt it.

Now you might claim that Rose is performing a public service whereas Rodman is not.  I don’t agree.  Rose’s interview told us something about Assad.  I think Rodman’s act also tells us a great deal about Kim.

But Dennis, friend.  You still have a chance to be a true hero.  Does anybody remember the short lived television series Soldier of Fortune Inc, in which Rodman played the mercenary Deacon “Deke” Reynolds?  I know you do!  Dennis, all you have to do is act like Deke, get real close to your “friend” Kim, and snap his fat neck like a cow bone.  His guards will mow you down, and another equally evil man would just take Kim’s place, but you’ll die a hero Dennis.  Think it over.  What have you got to lose, except all your precious, tasty money?