Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A prayer

Lord, in these tough times I pray that you keep me ever mindful that the grace and peace and love you give are meant to be shared and not hoarded.

I ask that you give me the strength to walk the walk rather than talk the talk, to listen and pay attention, and to treat my fellows as I would be treated, just as you have taught.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Battlefield Self

If you've wondered how it is that gergle and yewtoobe have come to a place where they censor content based on politics and ideology yet allow and profit from pedophilia, it's worth spending a bit of time thinking about what human beings are and what they are capable of doing.

One thing that the history of humanity tells us -- and proves, over and over and over again -- is that each and every one of us has the capacity to do unspeakably horrible things. And that we have less control over that ability than we like to tell ourselves (as we whistle past the graveyard of genocide).

"Ah," said the future concentration camp guards (every single one of them), "this doesn't apply to me. I'm a good person!"

The algorithms and ai's being produced and employed these days are being produced and employed by -- guess what -- human beings. They are not morally or ethically superior to people. How could they be? They're a mirror of their makers, albeit really fast and really loud.

That Socrates dude. You know, the unexamined life?

I suspect it's too late for many -- perhaps even most -- who've grown to relish the life of the matured and unencumbered feral child. But most isn't everyone

"After being fed a non-stop diet of freedom and rights for 60 years, people are starving to death for a diet of constraint and responsibility."

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Night peoples

Without going into a lot of detail, it took a while to get my mind, body, and soul adjusted to nights.

In the beginning (the beginning of my association with this form of employment) the store was in a bit of a crunch so far as help goes. Not enough employees, and perhaps a few other personnel issues which I may delve into at some point.

As the new meat I got rattled around back and forth between the 3-11 (evening) and 11-7 (graveyard) shifts. All part of the new meat burden, which I understand, and on top of a help shortage. A blind man could see it coming a mile away. Once he picked up his hammer and saw, anyway. Butt I digress.

There were a few crises, a few double shifts, and when the smoke had cleared and all violent motion had ceased, there was a new manager and I found myself in sole possession of the Wednesday-Sunday graveyard shift. Which made it easier for me, not having to bounce back and forth on shifts and all. That meant a normalized sleep/awake cycle, and that really makes things much more manageable.

All the aforementioned to introduce the concept that I managed to suck it up, drive on, and win through. Also, now that I'm on straight nights, I'm a night people.

Last night was the first of my two weekly days off, my Saturday if you will. And it was a beautiful night. The day had been raw and blustery, with temps in the 40's and a howling northwest wind kicking up to as much as 60 mph at times. But the night was clear and calm and almost balmy, with the mercury hovering near 50 degrees.

Since I started at the store I've been unable (or unwilling) to get out and hike or do roadwork. At work I'm on my feet for eight hours and my fitness watch tells me that I cover 5-7 miles each night just going about my tasks. That's all to the good, being up and about is much better for me physically than sitting on my ass. But it's not the same as a hike, and I've missed that.

So I got out and hiked last night. It was glorious.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Do you dare?

The Founders got it right. Sharply limited government and the sovereignty of the individual citizen.

But even before that, they Declared that it is self-evidently true that all men are created equal and endowed with unalienable rights.

The necessary corollary which attends unalienable rights is unavoidable responsibility.

The nation is very, very sick. When a land with a government of, by and for the people becomes sick, it is not for the government to produce the cure. This is a job for the people.

Getting down to cases, how is the sovereign individual citizen to help?

The first step goes hand in hand with the First Principle. The First Principle is that all men are created equal. It follows immediately that to be treated as an equal human being by ones fellows, one must first and foremost treat ones fellows as equal human beings. All of them, and without exception. This is the hardest responsibility of all.

I do not believe that one can hew to this principle without working at it. We are individuals, after all, locked forever in our own individual mind and body. Our default nature is selfish. It has to be so, else we'd perish. It's nature. Natural.

To treat others as we would be treated, and to hold ourselves to the same standard we require of others, this is the hardest thing. One can't just say it, one has to do it. And to do it, one has to have good and sufficient reason, and that reason (or those reasons) must come from within.

I can't get away with just parroting some high sounding words and issuing platitudes and posting memes. I have to do the hard work of developing and living a set of principles. Such principles must stem from a higher plane than that of the mortal human. Just as our natural rights come from our creator rather than from government, so our principles must come from a plane far above our egocentric, subjective, mortal selves.

Now a lot of people will read words like these and believe with utter certainty that they've got this principles thing suitcased.

Let me just suggest that might not be the case, and that furthermore, certainty is a very scary place for a human to be.

I'm going to go out on a limb here -- but it's a very short, very stout, and quite probably unbreakable limb. I suspect that few people in America spend much time thinking about, or to use the words of Socrates -- examining -- their principles. If this is so, and if the foregoing exposition comes anywhere close to describing reality, it might just be incumbent upon individual Americans to consider doing what President Kennedy suggested. A natural (perhaps the natural) place to begin doing something for the nation might be an intense study of ones principles. What are they? How closely do we hew to them? No, seriously! How closely?

To prime the pump, as it were, consider the following dare. Watch the video. It's hard. A SEAL and a Canadian psychologist. Talking about tough stuff and hard things. Watch it, think about it, and follow the path your thoughts suggest. Pick it apart. Think about what these fellows say in the context of individual responsibility. Or not. It's only a suggestion. Individual responsibilities can only be exercised by sovereign individuals, after all, and individual principles can only be developed by independent human beings.

Either way, it might also be worth pondering exactly what there is to be thankful for in this season of Thanksgiving.

Words to think about

Haven't been here in a while. Life stuff.

Getting back to normal. For some values of normal :)

It's almost Thanksgiving. Boy, do I have a lot to be thankful for!

Here are the words. Kipling's "If"

IF you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools: 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Perhaps they are words to live by...