Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Civil Discourse, or Civil War?

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Wanna play a game? Read the following quote and pick its mostly likely source from the list:

“The problem with them is, they’re crazy, and/or stupid, and/or disingenuous hypocrites and usually all of the above. Their political and economic ideas are pure fantasy. They’ve led to tremendous human suffering, and will spell our doom if we don’t wake up and choose a just, sane path for this country.”

Was this :

A) A “Conservative” describing “Liberals”

B) A “Liberal” describing “Conservatives”

C) I dunno, sounds like it could be either or both. Oh I guess that’s your point, huh? Very clever. Can’t we ever just simply play a game without there having to be some kind of message baked into it?

If you answered “C”, you win a Kewpie doll!* (Thanks, for the “clever” compliment – I’ll choose to overlook your ironic tone. And yes, we can play that kind of game too, just some other time.)

OK, so point taken then, eh?

I think most people can agree this dynamic isn’t getting us anywhere good. I suspect that at this rate and intensity, we better revive civil discourse or we may face civil war.

My purpose in the next few posts will be to aid that process by dissecting the forces driving the animosity, explaining my own positions and motivations, and create an open environment for exploration toward solutions. To anyone who remembers how to play nice, your contributions are very much welcome.

*Not really though. Well, I guess if you really really want one, tell me in the comments…

Categories: Uncategorized

quote of the day (and probably much longer.)

October 11, 2011 1 comment

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
H. L. Mencken

If Ron Paul Had Been President in 1917, the Holocaust Would Never Have Happened

September 20, 2011 6 comments

I often encounter articles attempting to support America’s worldwide military interventionism by asking non-interventionists like Republican Presidential Frontrunner Dr. Ron Paul “What would you have done about Hitler?!” The question is usually a thinly veiled accusation designed to cast peacemakers as cowards and/or weaklings and/or heartless SOBs, and, perversely, war-mongers as the champions of the weak and oppressed. It often comes packaged with the spurious notions that

  1. our foreign “aid” is used or intended for humanitarian purposes. (It’s not – it’s there to bribe governments into compliance and feed the US arms industry. Much or most of it get’s funneled into the Swiss bank accounts of dictators)
  2. our military interventions are undertaken for charitable ends, as if bombings and mass-starvation-inducing embargoes are the geopolitical equivalents of hugs from Mother Teresa.

Before we go any further, let me state for the record, I have no qualms with anyone for asking this question sincerely, rather than purely as a cynical rhetorical device. They’re often helpless in the grip of fear; the fear that the whole world will be conquered by evil dictators if America does not step forever on it’s neck with the jack-boot of our intrinsic goodness. Enthralled by that fear, they become blind to the facts that

  1. our Federal government routinely deals with, supports and even installs dictators whenever those actions suit it
  2. there have always been those who sought world dominion for themselves through Government and “the greater good” has always been the most common whitewash for their psychopathic ego-trips
  3. when you use military force to conquer other peoples’ countries and then stay there and extract their resources, they view you as an oppressor, no matter how vicious the regime you’ve toppled. THe thought process is “he may have been a devil, but at least he was our devil.” People like to work things out for themselves – we’d be no different.
  4. We kill and maim OODLES of civilians including SCADS of cute little babies and kids and women, and grown men who once were cute little babies and kids, and who’s mothers will always remember and hold them in their hearts that way. And we kill plenty of them too. The mothers, that is. So I guess they won’t ALWAYS remember, just until we kill them. Or they die some other way. Or get amnesia… jeez, are you really going to make me qualify this with every possible permutation…?! 🙂 Anyway, when you do those things, people see you all the more as an oppressor, and might not mind risking death, or even blowing themselves up to get back at you, since you’ve already killed everything they had to live for anyway. Again, we would be no different.
  5. When you clamp down on the world to protect it from all the evil dictators, you become the biggest evil dictator of all.

So for the few who ask this question sincerely, let me address it as such:

Ron Paul has always advocated fighting declared wars when necessary, against enemies who’ve attacked us. And in WWII that’s just what happened. Leaving aside the fact that FDR deceitfully allowed/engineered the attack on Pearl Harbor as a pretext to fight the Nazis, which Dr. Paul would never have done, once we were attacked by Japan and declared war upon by Germany, he would no doubt have proceeded more or less as it happened.  So all those who are afraid that Ron Paul’s non-interventionist America will hand the world to a future monolithic despot, take heart – it’s not so.

But I’ll go further and suggest that, not only would Ron Paul have dealt appropriately with Hitler, but if his approach had been followed in the WW1 era, the question about Hitler would have been moot from the outset. No, not moot… non-existent and virtually unimaginable, because there would never have been a Hitler, a WW2 (at least as we knew it), a Holocaust, etc. I admit that’s a pretty bold statement, but the thought-process behind it is straight forward, and, in my view iron clad – check it out:

We all know the accepted narrative behind the rise of Nazism and the causes of WW2. But let’s recap anyway, just to make sure everyone’s on the same page:

  • The German people were ashamed and angry at their defeat in WW1
  • They were bristling and strained under the punishing reparations imposed by the Versailles treaty
  • They were hungry for someone to restore their national pride and resist what they perceived at the injustices visited upon them by the foreign powers.
  • In comes Hitler, and it’s off the races (pun intended.)*

You’ll notice everything in this list hinges on Germany’s loss of WW1. So it’s only reasonable to conclude that if Germany had won, none of the rest would have happened, right?

And why did Germany lose? She had the French essentially defeated and Great Britain hanging on by a thread. Her victory was a foregone conclusion. The game changer? America came into the war.

It’s certain that, if America had minded her own business**, Germany and her allies would have won WW1.

Everything else dominoes from there:

No Versailles Treat, no wounded German pride, no tinderbox of German resentment to be fanned into an irate resurgent nationalism, no Hitler, no WW2 and no Holocaust.  So in this scenario, everyone’s a big winner except the French, British and their allies***.

WW2 was also the impetus for transoceanic militarism entering the American mass psyche. If we keep the dominoes falling along their logical trajectory, no WW2 means no NATO, no UN****, no Korean war, probably no Vietnam war, probably no cold war, no Iraqi, Afghani, Somali or Libyan wars, etc…

Moreover, no holocaust means no state of State of Israel, no Middle East conflict, no Palestinian/Arab refugee problem, no eternal wrangling over a “two state solution” etc.

The mind reels at the countless lives and vast resources that could have been spared and put toward enhancing human wellbeing, rather than destroying it, and at the general ramifications for our world, which branch off into infinity to form an alternate reality, populated by people who were never born, living in circumstances that never came to pass.

Now obviously, this kind of speculative history is in many respects inherently unprovable, and something I usually dismiss as mental masturbation. But in this case, I think it an appropriate and compelling counterpoint to the use of history to legitimize America’s tragic foreign policy of the last 100 years, when in fact a more logical examination of the past cries out for the exact opposite: stop all the wars, stop all the meddling, mind our own business, and heed the advice of our founders, as reflected in the remarkable and genuine wisdom of the only person in the Presidential arena who’s got the cures for what ails us: GOP frontrunner, Dr. Ron Paul.

* If you have any mods or additions etc…, by all means please tell me in the comments.

**Some will protest here, saying “It was our business – it became our business with the sinking of the Lusitania. And that is the official line. I would point out that many believe that attack happened under false pretenses, that the Lusitania was deliberately offered up as a sacrificial lamb by Woodrow Wilson, Edward Mandell House, and none-other than Sir Winston Churchill, then head of the British Navy, as a pretext to get America into the war. And given what is now known about Pearl Harbor and the Gulf of Tonkin, that seems most plausible – par for our government’s course.

But whether or not that’s what happened, we needn’t have gone to war over it. Ships should be careful when sailing in war zones. Duh. Maybe they shouldn’t go – they might get sunk; that doesn’t mean the attacking nation has a policy of deliberately targeting the other nation’s ships, or the capacity or will to launch an invasion against her, which Germany clearly did not. The sinking of one ship in a hot zone does not mean a whole nation suddenly has a stake in, must, or should involve itself in, a war.

***As it happened, Germany had offered those nations quite a magnanimous peace settlement, but anyway, that’s not America’s problem. (And I say that having ½ French Ancestry, which was deeply scarred by WW1.) My father the history buff also points out that “a victorious Germany, still under Kaiser W II, would almost certainly have sought to expand according to Pan-Germanist views. Keep in mind that in 1914 Germany declared war on Russia and France, and invaded Belgium, knowing full well that would draw the UK into the fray. While not crazed like Hitler, the Kaiser was reckless and had grandiose views, the fulfillment of which would have redrawn the map of Europe and planted the seeds of another war – i.e. instead of Germany resenting France & the UK after WW1 it would have been the latter resenting Germany. Either way there would have been another explosive situation, but certainly very different from, and probably not quite as horrific as what did transpire.” To this I say – yes, but that would still not have been America’s concern; Europe’s wars belong to Europe.

****My Dad came to this country and met my mom through working for the UN, so it also means no me – but in this context I’m fine with that.

0∞1 = Us

Before leaving the subject of existential math, let me offer up a peek at how it applies to you and me.

If you, like myself, have ever been possessed of what’s commonly thought of as the scientific rationalist world-view, and if you, also like me, ever went through a period or reading authors like Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Kurt Vonnegut, Issac Asimov, our marvelous, towel toting friend, Douglas Adams, or even if you’ve ever just found yourself looking “up” at the night sky a lot, you may have come to feel somewhat underwhelmed by the likely deservedness of humanity’s self-estimation of centrality in the grand scheme.  Perhaps, also like me, you concluded it was extraordinarily improbable that, given the relatively infinitesimal size of our solar system, infinitesimally infinitesimal relative size of our planet, and even infinitesimally infinitesimaler relative size and duration of ourselves, combined with the obviously indifferent, ruthless, red-in-tooth-and-claw nature of nature, it cannot be rationally assumed that the  gloriously infinite creator of all this, whatever s/he/it may be, places so much importance on little ol’ us.

Or to put it another way – we think we all that, but we ain’t s/he/it.

If that is or was your world view, you’ll get no criticism from me for it – I still think there’s much to recommend it as the most honest and rational among the usual ideological suspects.

It’s just that that’s not enough – because, everyone in the lineup is guilty of something. That is to say, all ideologies are incomplete and therefore, to a greater or lesser extent, misleading and false.

So speaking to you now as a relentless seeker of truth, what if it were suggested that the seeming incompatibility of our unfathomable cosmic smallness and grand existential significance dissolves under the lens of basic mathematical reality?

Consider this:  In the world of math, the omniverse may be likened to the whole numbers,  starting at nothing and extending to infinity. Meanwhile, we humans are like the range from 0-1.

Compared to the full endless span, any given number is dwarfed to seeming irrelevance, and it would be easy to dismiss our little 0-1 continuum as irrelevant. But to do so would be to lose a subtle, yet all-important fact – that within each of us, just as between zero and one, there lies a hidden cosmos, an inner infinity every bit as endless as the outer. This is the realm of pure consciousness, of which mystics have spoken for eons, and which is freely accessible to each of us, should we but choose to turn and look.

As infinities of any scale are equally absolute parts of the holographic fractal we call reality, what rational person could claim the intellectual authority to rank the existential importance of one such infinity over another?

I sure can’t.

Categories: Uncategorized

Two MDs sharing a Contentious Practice = Existance

Before getting into politics and matters of individual liberty, let’s start with the fundamentals of reality that underpin people’s political outlook the same way quantum spin underpins one’s eating of a cheeseburger. The element I have in mind right now is the ubiquity of paradox. This is a subject that definitely bears on the complimentary-opposite-outlooks manifesting as political left and right. I’ll come back to that in future posts, but for the moment, I think it best examined in its purest form: mathematics.

Wait… where at you going…? Don’t click away – this’ll be interesting, you’ll see…

Now, I never was a “math person”, myself.  I always resented being forced to learn anything  I saw as basically inapplicable in my real life – doubly so concerning math, since not even the teachers could give me a compelling case for it’s relevance.

That persisted until, in my mid twenties I underwent a period of  mental, physical, and emotional rebirth – a metamorphosis that has infused every aspect of my life since. One of the epiphanies I received during that time, was to recognize the glory of math as a window into the very operating language of existence. When you look deeply at this language, you can see paradox permeating all levels – and to my mind, nothing exemplifies this more beautifully than that most mysterious of mundane figures, the circle.

The circle is a finite construct. You can take it in at a glance. Yet Pi, the mathematical soul of this shape, goes on forEVER and NEVER repeats EVER. Let your mind suck on that for a moment and savor the sweet, juicy futility of trying to grasp ∞.  It is truly an everlasting gobstopper of gorgeous incomprehensibility. Just consider the implications – you could calculate Pi to a number of digits that surpassed the number of quantum particles in the known universe and just keep right on going.  So we have the infinite underlying and birthing the finite – the finite concealing and structured upon the infinite.  The same is true of the infinity between one and two, and infinite array of other numbers. Infinite infinities infusing and comprising every square inch of the fabric of existence, while a cubic inch yet remains a sharply defined limited volume.  If that’s not the mother of all paradoxes, I don’t know what is. And in the case of Pi, it’s one the Greeks couldn’t handle – it gummed up their tidy materialist world view, so they refused to deal with it*. And, as I’ll discuss in future posts, that abdication is one of the main factors gumming things up for us as their intellectual heirs – especially in the realm of politics…

and so we come…


wait for it…

waaaaaaaiiiiiiit for it…


*Radical** oversimplification duly noted. Definitely true of the Pythagorean though.

** Mathematical pun intended***

*** I’m usually not geeky, but puns + math, I confess, make for a major exception.

Categories: Uncategorized

Happily Obsessed

May 14, 2010 1 comment

They say the first thing you need to do when you have a problem is own up to it, right?

So OK, I admit it – I’m obsessed. Obsessed with issues surrounding the fate of the individual in an increasingly power-centralized world. Obsessed with finding how to let the agonies of our collective past finally fade, for humanity to grow into her potential and finally be worthy of the name. Obsessed with how to live this life with room to pursue the highest human aspirations not under some de facto “authority’s” coercion and definition, but, of my own judgment and accord. In other words, I’m obsessed with the welfare, propagation and triumph of human liberty – the free choice of the individual.  And this is the worst kind of addiction – one that elicits no sympathy from others. There’s no 12 step program to get over it. No one’s going to lose sleep praying for my salvation, or give me methadone, or produce a made-for-TV movie with John Travolta dramatizing my heroic struggle for freedom from freedom.

Nope, just gonna have to stick it out on my own.  But at least you’re here. Thanks for coming. Maybe you care about individual liberty too…? And maybe not in some xenophobic, jingoistic, finger-pointy, flag-worshipy kind of way, but in one that leaves the door open for everyone. A way that speaks to the fundamentals of what it means to be human, a commonality of Being that, fed on attention and bolstered by courage, can blossom into the love of liberty in every human heart.  I hope so. But either way, that’s cool – I’m glad you’re here. And as you continue to read, maybe you’ll find you truly resonate with what I have to say, share your own thoughts, and help build a conversation worth having. Screw the 12 step program – I’m glad I’m obsessed.

Categories: Uncategorized