Thursday, February 26, 2015
‘The Interview’ movie
Sony Pictures, you clever bastards! Anticipating North Korea's predictably childish behavior, they instigated this cyber-war that led to the withholding of the movie. They then demonstrated that direct-to-home releases could be wildly profitable and the movie still made it to the top rated on IMDB. Kudos for thinking outside the box!
In unrelated news, I just bought The Interview on Google Play. -12/25/14
Honoring the Nonaggression Principle
The HARDEST time to adhere to NAP is when, at a busy intersection, some jackass cuts me off with a moving violation. I then swerve to avoid a collision, sending 44 ounzes of Dr. Pepper flying out of the cupholder and to the ceiling, where this liquid grenade redecorates my car interior. I immediately begin to regret my defensive maneuver that saved his life and both our property--who cares, I have great auto insurance--and grope for a pistol that's not there. -2/25/15
Self-government vs. the State
Voluntary self-government is NOT the same as "the State". Citizenship can be voluntary as can law and law enforcement—Jonathan Jaech does a lot of excellent work on voluntary law. The state is coercive whereas constituency of a government of/by/for the people can be truly voluntary (although an-caps' heads explode at the notion). -2/24/15
Libertarian military veterans
Nathaniel Branden in his life and works taught people to own up to their failures, but to NEVER be ashamed of their successes. Therefore, attention anarchists: I am libertarian and I served in the government military. It made me a stronger person and in the end a stronger libertarian. GET OVER IT.
*Side note: Other libertarian vets include Ron Paul, Jim Gray, Leonard Reed, and Ludwig von Mises. -2/22/15
Selling sex for liberty
Trying so hard to sell liberty through sex just seems silly. Own a gun, read a book, and treat women with respect, and libertarian men will "get some" more often. Some libertarians are probably great in bed. Others are terrible in the sack. They're human beings, after all. But like most aspects of libertarianism, this debate is ruled by men who talk a lot about things they never do in real life. -2/09/15
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'The Interview' promo image courtesy of WNPR and is the property of Sony Pictures. Implied sex image courtesy of Men's Health UK. Both images used according to Fair Use.
Monday, February 23, 2015
This may have been the first time I ever enjoyed myself at a memorial service, but I had a blast at Nathaniel Branden's memorial service. Hosted at the Los Angeles Ebell Theater by the Atlas Society, it was great to hear a lot of big names in the liberty movement discussing the importance and personal impact of Branden’s work (which also had an impact on me, personally).
I remember one of the defining moments of my last few years: I was sitting on top of a Humvee in the Mojave Desert, wearing full (bloody) combat armor, reading “The Moral Revolution in Atlas Shrugged” under the desert sun. At the time I’d been wrestling with some major personal issues and I was at a crossroads in life. As a matter of fact, the Humvee I sat on was literally parked at a crossroads where two dirt paths crossed and continued into the sandy wilderness.
The number one theme I took away from Branden’s essay is this: with great liberty comes great responsibility—not a responsibility to strangers, but to self. Branden wrote about asserting one’s rugged individualism and never being ashamed of success, especially when “social” pressures dictate otherwise. But there’s another, more important side to that: one must always own up to one’s own failings. But rather than self-castigate, one should alter their actions for the better and move forward in life.
In that one essay, Mr. Branden had a hell of a punch for my brain that helped put the Atlas Shrugged novel and my own confused life into proper context for me. That was a big deal.
It also spoke highly of Branden’s character that both his wife Leigh and amicably divorced ex-wife Estelle Devers were present, got along, and treated each other with dignity and respect. Hell, I already know which exes are totally banned from my funeral!
The service lasted almost three hours, with a variety of accomplished objectivists and libertarians speaking both of Nat Branden’s work as an intellectual and personal memories of a dear friend departed. People shared funny, silly stories about Branden and played audio clips from his academic lectures.
It was fascinating to hear in Branden’s own words a new context for the infamous rape scene in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. While I didn’t agree with him 100%--rape is rape in my book—I will admit that there’s something to Branden’s reasoning in sexually repressed people who are intensely attracted to each other having rape fantasies. After all, it’s the reason why 50 Shades of Grey is so wildly popular.
|Judd Weiss shares memories of Nathaniel Branden|
Many of the speakers who were mentored by Branden were aged, in their 50s and 60s. In this context, it was especially refreshing to hear from the cream of the crop of the second generation of Nathaniel Branden’s pupils: Judd Weiss. Apparently other speakers ran over their allotted time, so Judd had to slash most of his remarks and deliver his speech in five minutes. Judd's words were touching and he spoke from the heart, not so much about Nat’s work, but about the growing role Nat played in Judd’s life over the last 5 years.
Nat Branden spoke and wrote often these simple instructions: Feel deeply so you can think clearly. I learned a lot and left the service feeling better about myself. I suppose the greatest feeling of all was being surrounded by people of strong character who aren't ashamed of their success, but also own up to their failures. Men and women of this quality are few and far between, and no small part of their character and integrity was inspired by the words and deeds of Nathaniel Branden.
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Color photo by Judd Weiss. Black and White photo by Avens O'Brien.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
We're now walking a fine line between the non-aggression principle and playing witness to murder. While the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria hasn't attacked the United States homeland, neither were they ever libertarian-style freedom fighters simply trying to liberate Iraq from an occupying army. They themselves were a conquering and occupying army trying to form a new state!
While ISIS may not be an existential threat to the United States--they don't have the power to destroy America--they certainly are an imminent threat. They just keep growing and conquering and planting new cells in countries around the world. Worse yet, they efficiently murder civilians at an industrial capacity not seen since the Yugoslav Wars.
I believe in blowback. I believe that the U.S. government's actions abroad directly fanned the flames of Islamic terrorism worldwide. However, while not intervening in future conflicts will prevent future blowback, nonintervention does nothing to dissipate the blowback that already exists. So while the ISIS terrorist quasi-state may not an existential threat, they are an imminent threat and will one day directly attack Americans (and not in the Middle East).
I've seen what they do. I've read the numbers of the literally tens of thousands of civilians they've murdered, including women and children. I read the statistics of their murders and racketeering they boast about in their corporate-style Annual Report. One doesn't need to buy into false flag propaganda to objectively match words with action, history with current events, to deduce that this terror group is here to stay until totally destroyed from the outside.
Libertarians too often hide behind the concept of nonintervention. Well, here's the deal: no country or population ever hated the U.S. for saving people from being massacred. They hated the U.S. for sticking around after liberation and then dictating to the people how they would live, what type of government they'd have, and what corporations they'd do business with.
This is but one reason why the U.S. government should no longer intervene in the war in Iraq and Syria. Unfortunately, little good ever came from U.S. military intervention in the 21st century. But intervention by individual volunteers is a different story.
Many may say that the war against ISIS, now encompassing Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Libya, is not a war any libertarian should support. But here's my question to them: are you against a just cause and a just war, or are you specifically against the State intervening in foreign affairs? When I say "individual volunteers" I mean that government should be left behind and individual free people should do what they know to be right, not taking anyone's tax dollars to do so. There's a difference.
Many will say that ISIS was covertly founded, funded, and armed by the CIA. Others say they're the Mossad's baby. Most people accept that ISIS is the Al Qaeda splinter group--formerly Al Qaeda in Iraq--who broke away from Bin Laden's organization to wage sectarian war on Shia Muslims and establish a global Sunni state.
Frankly, it doesn't matter which government or entity is responsible for incubating this terrorist quasi-state. These butchers need to be stopped. As much as I loathe making this distinction, there's a huge difference between collateral damage in an airstrike that specifically targets a combatant, and deliberately beheading children for refusing to renounce Jesus. There's a huge difference between civilians being caught in the crossfire and for the enemy to routinely march 300 civilians at a time into an open field and mow them down.
Evil exists in this world and it must be stopped by We the People, especially if our own government is at fault.
The best people to stop the butchers are: 1) the armies of the countries ISIS invaded; 2) the various guerrilla groups and citizen militias in the invaded countries; 3) international volunteer combatants, and volunteer aid workers; and 4) private security contractors hiring themselves to guard populations or assets in the combat zones.
The international volunteers fighting ISIS are heroes to me, reminiscent of the American guerrillas who individually took it upon themselves to fight the British Army from Concord to Boston. The aid workers in this war also have a special place in my heart, reminding me of the missionaries in World War II who made it their mission to protect Chinese children from Japanese soldiers.
Keep the government out of Iraq and Syria. Let volunteers and the private sector change the war effort from an imperial proxy war to a libertarian people's war of international liberation. And when the day comes that ISIS is extinguished, let the international volunteers get the hell out of there and leave "nation building" to the actual nations!
Monday, February 16, 2015
If you're new to The Boredom or just forgot what's going on in my life, the previous dispatch is here, or start from the beginning with Dispatch 1.
Sunday, Day 31 of The Boredom, was a calm and relaxing day. I mostly did research, did some prep work for the side business, and then I went to evening service at the First Baptist Church. The pastor was preaching from Exodus.
Monday, Day 32, was hectic. I hit the gym, showered, and then went out to do some more last minute Christmas shopping. It’s freaking uncanny how every year I keep telling myself I’ll do the shopping earlier next December. Then next December comes and I’m totally taken by surprise at how it’s December 22 and I still haven’t finished my Christmas shopping.
Luckily I’d made a dent in the holiday shopping the week before, so there were only three or four places where I spent ridiculous blocks of time in line. Thankfully, I didn’t have an Auxiliary squadron meeting so I felt relieved to have that extra time to just rest. My teenage nephews brought home a bug from school and had passed it around the family—jerks. By Day 32 I was definitely feeling a cold coming on.
Day 33 was much of the same, though I had to carry tissue everywhere with me because my nose started doing the drip-drip run. I went to bed early that night.
Day 34 was Christmas Eve. The stress was on that day. I must admit, no small part of that was due to family drama. For starters, the father of my nephews—an absentee runaway coward who hasn’t seen his children in over three years—had recently called up and made promises (like he does every year) and then broke them (like he does every year). Every time that S.O.B. does that, my niece—eleven years old—becomes an emotional wreck, her feelings of abandonment become renewed, and then she starts acting up. Worst of all, being the only other male anywhere near her father’s age, she channels her hurt and rage and lashes out at me.
The other thing is that one of my siblings—who will not be dignified with name recognition—has been hanging around a lot. When she’s not mistreating me, she finds ways to loiter and become a nuisance, which annoys my dad to the extreme, and the next person he sees is the lightning rod for his charged up, pent up frustration. Guess who’s that lightning rod?
I hate to say it, but I’ve always been the soft target for my family. It’s because I’m the quietest, the kindest, and the most patient. Well, I suppose my mother’s really the kindest and most patient. But I was always the quiet, well-behaved one. (I misbehaved now and again; I just found ways that didn’t cause collateral damage the way Nameless Sibling’s shenanigans did.) So people found it easier to lash out at me because I wouldn't do it in return. Well, I got opportunities to surprise everyone during The Boredom. I won’t go into detail, but I didn’t let anyone walk all over me the way they did in the past.
I love my family, but I often feel like they don’t understand me. I’m not whining or feeling sorry for myself in any way. I’m at peace with the things about me that my family will never understand. But the more time I spend playing war with the Army, the more aggressive I become, and the more cold, calculating, and analytical I feel. Whereas I used to despair at major problems, nowadays my line of thinking is “Okay, first I need to survive this crisis, regroup/rearm, and then kill the people responsible.”
That’s an excellent way of warrior’s thinking, but it sure as hell don’t fly when it comes to jackasses on the 10 freeway, or with those in my own family who are practically begging for a broken jaw—but I can’t, because I can’t stand domestic violence. It’s in these moments of frustration and isolation that I feel a burning desire to find strength and direction in my walk with Christ, and from libertarian thought. The Golden Rule and non-aggression principle are truly hard to obey at times, but I must adhere to them if my honor, reputation, and conscience are to remain clean and clear.
Anyhow, Christmas Eve was upon us and the stress was there. The entire month, Nameless Sibling did absolutely nothing to help get ready for the Christmas Eve family get-together, other than insist that she pick out the Christmas tree, subsequently leaving the work of hauling and decorating the tree to our mother (who became annoyed and cranky at being ditched, and guess who was the next person she saw).
I spent a lot of time in the kitchen that day, cooking early-to-mid afternoon so my dad would have the kitchen freed up for cooking his dishes in the late afternoon. I also moved the furniture around to accommodate a banquet for the nuclear family and all the other relatives joining us. Then, as my dad started cooking, I finally got around to wrapping all the gifts I’d bought for the family. I managed to shower and put on slacks and a collar shirt (for my mother). I don’t play that ugly Christmas sweater game crap.
Dinner was delicious and it was good to have our big family seated around a large table for this holiday. After dinner we ate pie to our heart’s delight—it’s all about pecan pie and New York cheesecake—and then opened all the presents. Frankly, I didn’t appreciate the unorthodoxy of not waiting til Christmas morning, but I wasn’t in charge. It was still a great time.
Family’s important. Because of that, I gave in to my older sister, Dee, when she insisted on including the Nameless Sibling in our evening plans. I’m very close to Dee and visit her at her house at least two or three times a week. She insisted that because it’s Christmas, we should include Nameless. So I extended the invite.
She never made it to Dee’s house. I thought she’d left with Dee, and Dee left without Nameless thinking she was coming with me. We ended up putting two and two together that Nameless was off getting high somewhere, which is why she disappeared for a stretch of time.
After Dee’s house, I came home and racked out. I was feeling that cold and desperately needed sleep.
I awoke at 7:30 on Christmas morning, Day 35, glad about the reason for the season and that we’d gotten presents out of the way the night before. During the daytime I read, played Lord of the Rings Online, and hung out with Dee. As the evening drew near I finalized the evening’s plans.
Havok was to come with me to see the advance screening of American Sniper in the dome at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood—mind you, not only did I LOVE nighttime trips to Hollywood with my friends, but this was also three weeks before the movie’s general release. Then evening came and the exhaustion, coupled with the complete loss of adrenaline after the Christmas gift exchange was over, turned into a nasty cold that knocked me on my ass.
It was 9 PM and I felt like death warmed over but cooling off fast. I still had an hour-long drive to Hollywood and a possible outdoor wait in line, on a cold winter night, for a two-hour movie that starts at midnight. American Sniper wasn’t happening. Havok was very understanding—turns out the rat bastard already saw the movie in a secret advanced screening for the Navy.
I spent all of Days 36 and 37 resting and getting my body back from the abyss (but I was royally pissed the entire time about missing the advance screening I paid for). It wasn’t until several days later that I realized Day 36 was December 26—my two-year anniversary since I quit drinking. Cutting booze out of my life and reforming myself were monumental tasks, but I’m very proud of those accomplishments. I’m even more proud that getting my life together has made me feel worthy of the people I care about.
All in all, the holiday wasn’t bad. With Christmas over, I was looking ahead to the new year.
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Shoppers photo courtesy of the New York Post. Shooting silhouette courtesy of Cricuit Crafts on Pinterest. Santa in the sky image courtesy of aomzinsuay.blogspot.com. Both images used according to Fair Use.