Meanwhile, Some Choose to Live

Dostoevsky, in The Brothers Karamazov, illuminates that supreme hypocrisy of any institution that seeks to govern men and women: namely, that to do so, the propagators of the institution must seek to impose their rational on everyone else while decrying competitors. Invariably, the extreme of an opposite behavior circles to resemble that from which it so forcibly separated. In the story, Russian Orthodox ministers mock the Roman Catholic Church for deigning to become a state (the Vatican and sometimes a good portion of Europe), all the while proposing that the natural evolution of a State is to become the Russian Orthodox Church.

This mirrors the absurdity of Stalin (and Stalinists) hating Hitler (and Nazis) and vice verse. All institutions, especially the religious and political ones, are comprised of the same elements: faith in one or more leaders (visible or otherwise), laws and government, competition with other institutions, gathered resources (taxes, tithes, donations), a hierarchy, impetus to persist, reiterated message (sermons, speeches, lectures, printed materials, slogans), a defined and organized ideology, and eventually, a mythology. All of this together must combust; it must reach a critical mass; the elements must be put under pressure; and the integrants of the group achieve a sense of destiny. A sense of destiny is the supreme manifesto, the reason to live. Individuals now transcend the whole; the whole transcends the sum of individuals. This cauldron, this fervor creates the needed militancy.

Why militancy? Why must followers march and conquer? At their very heart, religious or political, all institutions are varying forms democracy. What about dictatorships, you ask? – Even dictatorships have a threshold, a minimum number of followers to viably exist, and a minimum number of opposers must capitulate; and the two thresholds may be the difference between Brownshirts and Nazis or Ferdinand Marcos and the People Power Revolution. Political and religious institutions create a viable existence through a sense of urgency. Namely, fear. Fear of a devil. Fear of hell. Fear of negative karma. Fear of hades. Fear of pugatory. Fear of taxes. Fear of the rich. Fear of the poor. Fear of them. Fear they are coming. Fear they are leaving. Fear you have yours and I do not have mine. Fear you will get your and I will not get mine. Fear, and hard work, creates the minimum threshold for followers. Fear can then be contrasted with ritual, liturgy, and some sort of penance or good works, votes, campaign buttons, and offerings. All that remains is for the opposition, perceived or otherwise, to capitulate; or, at least, in sufficient numbers for the opposing side to gain the upper hand. The marching sense of purpose makes followers follow and gives leaders command. The institution consumes the energy and converts it to fuel.

And in the carnage of battle, we win and die. Someone picks up the banner, or it falls. And it all resembles people fighting. It is all the same. And will always be. Followers comfort to die for something.

Meanwhile, some choose to live.

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More Skynet

I already mentioned my concerns (freaked out, drool dribbling, finger-chewing terror) that the nascent Skynet works tirelessly to gain control of popular media, global passage of information, methods of mass human transportation, and weapons systems. Well, if that isn’t enough! – Skynet’s efforts coincide with the insidious BnL! The aptly titled TechRepublic article “The city that thinks” proposes the specifics of an urban operating system (UOS). A UOS will handle everything from traffic direction to the environment inside buildings. Sensors and actuators will be built into “cars, buildings, and the wider urban landscape”. If the idea alone isn’t enough to trigger a clammy bead of cold sweat down the spin, plans are already underway in Portugal. Ugh!

Google has two new accomplices: Cisco and Microsoft. There may be more. An analyst predicts interfaced apps that include every industry from real estate to retail sales to healthcare. Can anyone say “robot inspired euthanasia”? Who knows if I work for an accomplice? Maybe Steve Jobs was/is involved? The famous ‘walled garden’: completely integrated software and hardware. Artificial Intelligence; Cylons; eternal return. I postulate that Steve Jobs did not die: his consciousness was downloaded into the digital vortex to enable rendering of the control matrix, the spark of the AI.

In the mean time, a sensory layer will feed information to the control layer (scary word control) to issue “intelligent commands”. Note the author’s hidden message, the quite plea that screams, help! help! you are missing the point! The very last sentence in the article, “Data transmitted over UOS systems is protected using ‘military-grade encryption’”. Shudder…

This girl suffe…


ImageThis girl suffered in war to prove a point that was not made. No winners or losers. Some warred; other were warred on. She was warred on and suffered. A picture immortalized her.  She lives past it.

I remember her picture in the pictorial histories of The Vietnam War on which I cut my reading teeth. Now I know she is alive, in Canada. She even met Queen Elizabet II. Who would of thought? I feel a weird sense of elation contaminated by a fierce sickness in my gut. My oldest daughter is this age, the age in the picture. What if it was her? Running down a highway screaming, “Too hot! Too hot!” and worried she would be disfigured. Left for dead because no one cares.

A terrible thing, war. A terrible thing.

A Smile of Freedom

Liberation from what people think. A difficult journey that few will ever attempt; fewer yet will complete. It is an uphill journey – crosses mountains, swims rivers, climbs lofty trees to seek direction. Freedom, to not care. I am still in the midst of the path; though a faint wisp of scent in the air, like a taste of ocean in the wind, teases my faculties. A smile on my face, when smiles are unbidden. Careful! -it smirks at the wrong moment, in my voice; to live free and not inflict pain. To live my life. And love those people.  

Susie Lindau’s Date Swap

This makes all sort of sense! -Why didn’t I think of it? The idea of the harbinger of summer, the doorway to backyard cookouts, road trips on the horizon, was always opened by the doorknob of sadness: Memorial Day. Maybe this is appropriate. Maybe we should stop and remember the death of those who protect us to have these times every year, like a season. But reflection and sadness link to autumn. Labor Day, celebrating workers, heralds the end of summer, pools close, vacation is over – back to school, back to work, strive for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Susie Lindau suggests a date swap! Any traction out there?

I Think About Death Every Day

ImageYves Rossy is “Jetman“. Yves has flown over the Grand Canyon, Rio, and the English Channel with a kerosene-powered wing attached to his back. This man is living his dream! I give credit to any person who pursues quality of life over longevity.