Posts Tagged With: Social Issues

Vagrant Story Episode 4: The $100 Panhandler.

The next few days were a furious blur of paint and dust and alcohol. Jeff, Romen, and Bryan worked more on the rehab property painting more of the house and laying down tile in what would later become the kitchen. Each day of labor Continue reading

Categories: Blogging, Camping, Character Development, Leadership, philosophy, Self-improvement, Society, Travel, Vagabonding | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Last of the American Boys

He puts his rucksack on

Taking courage from the Dawn of the Sun

He straps his boots on tight

Like a soldier who is ready to March

He is self-assured

A cool man headed into Adventure

He won’t turn back now

He’s the Last of the American Boys

 

He wears his cuts n’ scrapes

Like a badge of Tested Mettle

He is hitchin’ a ride

Like a smilin’ thumb on the Road

He left his stuff behind

While givin’ the Dow Jones the finger

He makes enough to survive

As he’s movin’ from place to place

 

Like a Navigator at the

Heart of the Expedition

He is one of a kind

He’s the Last of the American Boys

 

He plays his ole’ six string

Singin’ songs of the open highway

He is a sucker for

All the mountains he has yet to climb

He will trim his sails

Catchin’ the Trade Winds out on the ocean

He’s a travelin’ man

A rebel needing no cause

 

Like an Indiana Jones

Off on another crazy Adventure

He just can’t stay home

He’s the last of the American Boys

 

He puts his rucksack on

Taking courage from the Dawn of the Sun

He straps his boots on tight

Like a soldier who is ready to March

He will trim his sails

Catchin’ the Trade Winds out on the ocean

He’s a travelin’ man

A rebel needing no cause

And we need him to Live

Cause, he’s the Last of the American Boys.

Categories: Blogging, Character Development, Fear, philosophy, Poetry, Self-improvement, Society, Spirituality, Travel, Vagabonding, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts about Technocracy

Let me be clear from the start: I am NOT anti-science or anti-intellectual. As you may well surmise, I think alot, I read alot, and I spend a great deal of time trying to ‘get to the bottom of things.’ I applaud science for many of the wonderful modern day technologies such as ovens, cars, computers which I love so much for there ability to bring me information that would else be very far out of reach and other such inventions without which life would be a hell of a lot harder.

But I also point my finger at science for such ‘abominations’ as nuclear weapons and waste, advancements in weaponry, Bioweapons, Chemical warfare, as well as processed foods, refined grains devoid of any nutritional value, the excess sugars pumped into dull and drab foods to make them sweet. And though this is not the place to go into it, I’ve got a thing against furniture that you wouldn’t believe. These are all scientific advances; their triggers and causes may have been economic, that could be true, but science is what brought them about.

My point is that some science, some technological advancement is good, but only if that tech is used in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration (A philosophy) which we as a human race have not, as yet been able to establish.  And if science was a bit more ‘philosophical,’ that is to say, if scientific baseball had on its team a few players who asked, “Should we?” Instead of always asking, “How can we?” then technology might evolve in a more hospitable spirit (ideology, mentality whatever literary symbol soothes your nerves.)
Technology would change, improve, and evolve at a much slower pace, that’s true (thank goodness), but its evolution would be conscious, focused, purposeful instead of what we have today which is, “Hey, let’s invent all this shit and wait to see its unintended consequences…. OHHHH! Nuclear technology… man that really came back to bite us in the ass hasn’t it?” Instead of waiting for yet another ‘miracle drug’ to be recalled from the market cause, ‘Hey its design was faulty after all… who knew?’ (that guy knew, and he tried to tell them) we could have a little ‘wisdom and compassion’ with our science.

(A side note, those three words feel weird together for me as though they don’t usually go together. Anyone else have that feeling?)

Philosophy is important. Its more important than anything else we’ve got going for us as humans (I would say that wouldn’t I), though the modern day academic attitude has all, but destroyed the art and science of philosophy. Hell, with what passes as philosophy these days, Universities might as well shut down there philosophy departments and move them all into Law or Mathematics.

All science, ALL OF IT comes from philosophy, the First Science, way back in the day (which was a Wednesday), before man had microscope and beaker; back when a rational man (gasp they existed back in those HEATHEN times) had naught but one tool at his disposal with which to explore his external (or so called external) world: His Mind.

And every technological tool invented since that is for acquiring information serves man as an ‘extension’ of one of his senses; it does not replace it. The microscope ‘amplifies’ his sight, it does not supersede it, mathematics ‘assists’ his logical mind to new heights. Mathematics IS logical philosophy. I think the philosophy that most people (and much of the empirical sciences) seem to disdain is the realm of metaphysics, and I won’t even go into the cognitive judo that explains that the rejection of metaphysics is itself a metaphysic. 🙂

All the problems that we have are philosophical. The proposed solution for our worldy ills, ‘Technocracy,’ is itself a philosophy. It is the ‘idea’ that experts should be running the show. That only those with skill should make decisions regarding areas of life (which are apparently all technical though they know fuck all about any spiritual crisis of which man has many) with which they have experience. This is the set up for what is in philosophy called dualistic thinking and consequently, dualistic living, since human society is philosophy in action. We’ve been doing it for almost all of recorded human history and its how we got ourselves in this mess to begin with.

Right now, one of our most basic and self-destructive form of dualistic thinking is deeply embedded in our monetary system: Those that are Wealthy as opposed from those that are Not Wealthy. Those that are wealthy have all the power and make decisions (are the causers) and those that are not wealthy are the followers (the eventers, the ones who more strongly and directly experience the results of ‘their’ decisions and causes).

In this hypothetical ‘Technocracy’ the stage is set for a similar dualism: Those that have Skill and those that do Not have Skill (I wonder what will happen to ‘useless’ and ‘non-practical’ skills like music, poetry, art, drama) . Those that have skill will make all the rules and decisions, while those that have no skills (or don’t have enough skill to have a voice) will just have to trust they ‘they’ know what they’re doing. This set up is a disaster, because its what we’re doing right now (only not so thoroughly and completely as full blown Technocracy would have us do), and it ain’t working.

We’re already outsourcing our decisions to ‘experts.’ When someone gets a tummy ache, the first place they go is the doctor (who charges you an arm and a leg) instead of looking at diet and nutrition, amount and quality of sleep… etc. When your toilet leaks; call a plumber. No, no, no, don’t investigate it first to see if you might be able to fix it on your own (which is notoriously easy to do), call in ‘the experts,’ cause they know what should be done. Car trouble? Screw figuring it out for myself, I’ll call a mechanic.

We’re already doing something a lot like that on a daily basis, such that no one even cooks anymore, they all figure that cooking’s too hard and it’s better to pick up fast food, or get something microwaveable from the store.

I admit I was initially excited about The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement and Technocracy, but upon delving deeper, I think these ideas stem from the same philosophies of perpetual frustration from which we already operate. In fact, at first glance I can see glaring and quite frightening similarities (from the point of view of one who studies ideas and where they come from) to Christian thought inlayed in the design of Technocracy.

I’m not sure how deeply you’ve thought about Christianity, but I’ve gone pretty far down the rabbit hole and the first and most important realization in rationally thinking about Christianity (as it is generally understood), is to understand how, in that mental construct one relates to Ultimate Reality. It’s an important question and in Christian baseball, man relates to Ultimate Reality as a subject to a King; and the King is the maker and shaper of the world; he’s a Cosmic Technician. In Christianity, God is an Autocratic Technocrat. That is to say, that God makes the world according to his own ideals and according to some kind of natural law; some kind of ‘higher order’ that he imposes upon a dumb and stupid world which He makes. And all his creations (subjects) are compelled by threat of punishment to comply with His law, which they may or not understand, but if they have concerns there is the Clergy and they know what should be done.

Now, I see the same gleam in the eye of Technocracy. Those who have Skill are going to be the movers and shakers of society. We hope that they’re unbiased in their ‘scientific’ (and not at all emotional) findings and therefore in the guidance in which they provide, but let’s be honest, humans are (after all) human. Who’s to say that the technological ‘experts’ calling the shots don’t have ulterior motives they’d like to push?

Even if you take money out of the equation and install a Resource Based Economy, getting rid of money, does not get rid of human desire or the whole host of problems that come with it, such as ambition, fuss over ones reputation, the attainment of and the desire to attain rewards and commendations… etc (Ha, ha, ha! Technological entendre… Install! As though society was a mere mechanistic ‘thing’ in which one could just swap certain parts, sigh, why does no one get that Life is organic and doesn’t work like machinery?)

Furthermore, who gets to decide which experts get to make which decisions? What ‘expert’ chooses other experts to inform society? And if the experts are informing society, then who is it that informs the informers? If these experts are to be the guardians of civilization, then who guards the guards?

Also, meditate on this: What about non-joiners? What if you have a selection of the population who decided that they don’t very much like the idea of Technocracy and that they’d like to do things their way and live in their backwater ancient ways and would really just like to be left alone? If it’s a small percentage I imagine Technocracy would be fine with it and could still function.

But supposing that the opposition is much larger say China, or a combination of Far Eastern cultures; what then? From what I understand RBE is an ‘all or nothing thing,’ the whole world has got to be on board or it won’t work. After all, resources must be allocated for the benefit of ALL people or else you get another dualism: those that have the benefit of RBE and those who do not. And those who do not have; have always wanted the treasure of those who have; thus we see the beginning of war.

Now, I should make it clear that my role, my Act in this Grand Drama we call Life, as a philosopher is just to put out ideas and get people thinking. I am not a Technocrat, nor am I a technician, nor am I really a huge fan of the empirical sciences as they exist today (mostly because they are based on the 19th century philosophies of Freud, Newton, Darwin… men who I would gladly strangle were they alive today, for convincing us that the Universe is dead, dumb and driven by blind brute force.)

I just want people to think about Technocracy before they cream their pants over it. If you think about it and it sounds like a worthwhile idea to you, then I wish you well in your endeavors; I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone what they should or should not do. I have my opinions of course, and when I write, I write with a voice of authority, but in the end I am never to be taken seriously; I’m not nearly that stuffy and full of myself. I also realize that my thoughts are taken sometimes to the extreme. I do that on purpose, I want to take my thoughts are far as seems to me reasonably ‘possible,’ though not necessarily probable. Again, the point is just to generate other thoughts and to stimulate contemplation.

So in closing, I am curious to know your thoughts? Those of you who really go to bat for Technocracy; let’s hear from you. I myself am curious as to how it would all work. I’m open to the idea that maybe its not as I imagine it to be.

Categories: Ancient Classics, Building, Character Development, Economics, Government, Leadership, philosophy, Politics, Self-improvement, Society, Spirituality, Technocracy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My views on Astrology

Astrology: One of many advanced ideas from ancient times.

I find astrology to be an interesting idea. Many have refuted the idea and benefits of astrology because their daily horoscope in the Sunday paper was wrong, or because they have very ‘logical’ mind sets and think it’s bogus that the arbitrary positions of the planets can have any bearing on one’s personality.

With these people I most heartily agree. Your Sunday horoscope means nothing. I can’t stand the idea of Prophecy to begin with and it irritates me to no end that everything that Astrology contains has been watered down to a few sentences about your day based on your sun sign.

The idea that the planets themselves influence one’s personality is also stupid. But, if we look at this idea from a different point of view we find that perhaps the relationship between planets and personality is different that we imagine. You see most people have that idea in mind; the idea that the planets themselves create or fashion the personality, they think this is stupid so they write it off. But, what if the planets don’t ‘do’ anything? What if they are merely ‘indicators?’

Most people reject the idea that external planets ‘create’ an internal personality, in very much the same way that most people reject the idea of an external ‘Creator God’ having anything to do with the shaping of the physical Universe and internal psyche. People don’t really believe in God, not like they used to. After the bombshell that Newton, Freud, and Darwin dropped on us in the 19th century, people have begun to hope that there’s a god; to really, truly, and sincerely wish that there was one, and feel they should believe, but they don’t.

I shall have much more to say about that in other essays. But the astrological point is this: play with the idea long enough and you get the notion that the planets indicatethings in an individual rather than do anything to them.

In THIS post I write about my view of the Universe and human consciousness.

Now, if you understand that, if you feel this fact, then the idea of astrology makes perfect sense. It really seems very forward thinking of our ancestors of many different cultures to come up with some system of Consciousness interpretation. Back to oceanic examples. A wave is the ocean and it’s all the same energy, it is all the same water. So it may be said that the state of the wave is reflected in the state of the ocean; that is to say that if one could devise some way of interpreting or analyzing the state of the ocean, and then you could have a way of analyzing and interpreting the state of any individual wave.

That’s what astrology is. It is a method devised a really long time ago and by many different people, to interpret the state of our particular pool of Universal Consciousness, namely our Solar System. The ancient cultures had some kind of idea that the state of an individual could be reflected in the state of the visible ‘heavenly’ Universe and thus certain interpretations could then be made about the state of the individual; the ‘wave.’

Whether they put it into words or not, the ancient cultures openly thought that ‘who you are’ goes well beyond the confines of your skin, to such degree that the position of visible ‘heavenly’ bodies at the exact moment of your birth; in the exact location in which you were born, could be read to give insight as to the state and personality of the individual. It’s really quite an advanced concept when one thinks about it. Assuming a method like astrology can reliably make certain claims about one’s personality based on planetary ‘indications,’ one could almost take it as a verification of a living, intelligent, self-aware Universe.

Here is a segment of my Natal Horoscope that I pulled off café-astrology. I agree that it is important to take any computer generated Natal with a good dose of salt, however I never the less find this interpretation staggeringly accurate as to my personality.

[Begin Natal Horoscope]

Sun in Aries

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, and Aries natives are the first to start–and the first to finish–whatever they set out to do. Aries is an active, energetic sign. People with Sun in Aries are direct, straightforward, and uncomplicated. They expect the same from others, and are baffled when they don’t always get it.

The body comes first with Aries. Sun in Aries people are natural athletes. At the very least, their natural inclination is to use their bodies to get things done. They’re not given to long, drawn-out emotional moments; nor are they big on planning ahead. Instead, they live their lives simply. What is happening right now is most important to Aries. Impatience is a definite vice, and innovation is a huge strength. Aries loves to start anything new, and they have trouble sitting still. They are pioneers in whatever they do, and there is a very basic quality of bravery in these people that is unmistakable! Aries generally knows what they want, and they know the quickest route to getting it. They take shortcuts if they must, but generally everything is aboveboard. Underhanded just isn’t their style. Some Aries people are bold, but even the quieter ones are brave and even plucky in their own way. Independence is their birthright. Nothing gets them going more than a fresh slate, the promise of a new day, and a brand new start.

Sun in IX (House)

You have a deep need to understand the world around you. You have high ideals and you have your eye on what’s on the horizon. You are looking ahead, and at times can seem quite restless. You are proud of your knowledge and of your morals. Be sure to avoid self-righteousness in your enthusiasm to share your knowledge. When used correctly, you are a tolerant, adventurous, and curious person, and you want to see the best in people and in life.

65 Trine Sun – Uranus

It is natural for you to question tradition. You are, above all things, an individualist. You naturally rebel against that which is established. It doesn’t mean that you consistently break all the rules, but you definitely do question some of the rules, especially those that simply don’t make much sense. You possess much self-integrity.

You easily embrace new ways of doing things, you stick up for the underdog, and you express yourself in unique and inspiring ways. You value honesty and truth, and you avoid putting on airs. You believe in the equality of people, and easily relate to people from all walks of life. You possess an unmistakable enthusiasm about life, and generally your life is interesting because you invite unusual or adventurous experiences into your life. You are generally appreciated by others because you are open-minded, fair, and not judgmental.

Moon in IX (House)

Highly imaginative. Prolonged studies, is intuitive. Professionally successful abroad, or in import-export or as a diplomat. Contact with foreigners. Long journeys. Ability to learn foreign languages.

You are a philosophical sort, interested and curious about the world, other people, and perhaps different cultures. You can be extremely restless and discontented if you don’t have a definite goal in mind.

31 Trine Moon – Ascendant

He has a good influence on the family, which loves and helps the person. He likes travelling, movement, change. He likes contact and is open to other people.

Mercury in IX

His thirst for knowledge is never satisfied. He is full of mental activity. He undertakes exhaustive studies, always studying for pleasure. Likes journeys to faraway places, and can go to live abroad.

You are eternally curious and hunger for knowledge. You enjoy studying and learning, and do it not because you have to, but because you want to. You enjoy exchanging ideas and personal philosophies with others. You can be especially buoyant, enthusiastic, and even inspiring in your communications. While you may not pay enough attention to details, you are skilled at finding a quick solution to problems. You readily see the bigger picture and enjoy sharing your opinions and ideas. You get off on how information affects people’s lives, and you take great pleasure in learning that something you have shared or taught has inspired others to take action, experience something new, or make changes in their lives. Some of you might be too quick to offer advice, however, that might be lacking in thoroughness and practicality, or that you yourself don’t follow.

[End Natal Horoscope]

Personally, I find this to be incredibly accurate as far as indicating (not determining) my personality. Given that I travel a lot and am the philosophical sort… as you might have guessed… I’d say these are fairly accurate statements.

I have used astrology to help shed light on certain areas of my life during times of personal confusion. I have used my Natal Horoscope to identify facets of my personality that are strong and merit continued dedication and focus. Astrology has been an invaluable tool in helping me to decide what was worth investing effort into and what was just an idle fancy. For instance, I tend to be a Jack of all Trades, and I’m usually good at anything I really set my mind to do, from teaching English, to miltary service, to studying philosophy, to the healing arts, to installing a new toilet tank this morning. Because I adapt so quickly and learn so fast I have a really hard time choosing ‘what to do’ (as though I could only choose one thing.)

I believe this difficulty has been brought about by my experience with our education system which pressures children (and consequently the adults they will become) to ‘specialize’ that is to pick one thing they are good at and do more or less only that. For most kids this was an easy pick, it was fairly obvious what they were good at and what they were total failures at, so given the slightest bit of psychological validation from an important figure in their lives, they ran full speed towards whatever made important figure happy.

I was not like this. I was always good at many things, I still am; and I always rejected the thoughts and opinions of others about me; choosing instead to trust myself as my own moral compass. This produced a lot of confusion in me as I waivered constantly between this and that; never able to pick just one skill to invest in or one track to follow. You will often see me refer to myself as a ‘Joker;’ a societal ‘Wild Card’ and most people have always found my natural flip flop ability to be very disconcerting.

Astrology helped clear my head a bit by allowing me to contrast my chart with the charts of friends and family members and gave me what I call ‘Astro Eyes.’ I learned to see just how different my personality ‘blueprint’ was from most of the people that I read and I began to slowly understand that I wasn’t ‘wired’ like most of my friends and family and that this was a very good thing.

My self-esteem didn’t hinge upon the praise and blame of others and this allowed me the freedom to do things my own wrong way, make my own mistakes and learn from them. I began to read about astrology and take the knowledge and use it in ‘cold reading’ people. It’s most important use was to show me that the reason I am good at so many things is because everything revolves around ideas and that’s my astrological area of expertise: ideas. Basically, I ‘get it.’ I start doing things and I begin to intuitively understand the pattern of what I’m doing. Before I know it, I understand what I’m doing and without the mystery it becomes boring and I lose interest.

Astrology has also helped me identify areas of challenge, areas of my life that if I would willingly take the time to develop would assist me in evolving as a conscious being. For me, my greatest challenge is in self-control and self-discipline. I tend to be a very ‘on the go’ kind of guy and my challenge is to be stable enough to accomplish something. I generally give way to my impulses and a lesson that would serve me well is a lesson in self-discipline.

It seems odd that the Navy wasn’t my bag as one would think that the military would be great for self-discipline, but it can’t be a discipline that is forced on me. The Navy was much too…’ do this or else.’ If you back me into a corner I fight (Aries), but if I back myself into a corner, fully knowing and understanding why I am submitting myself to this rule, tradition, practice, or structure , then the healing and growth can begin; because it will be a discipline that I have chosen for myself.

In this way I can hold myself accountable and discipline myself to engage in certain beneficial practices like my nightly meditation, my conscious awareness of bodily nutrition and body posture. But the most important aspect about self-discipline is being able to treat myself fairly. I know myself, I know what encourages me, what motivates me, what repels me, what discourages me. I’m only human and sometimes I can’t always live up to my own expectations or hold myself to higher standards all the time. Being my own mentor, I can handle myself tactfully taking care not to discourage myself in the future.

Sometimes I act out of spite. I may know that an authority is right, but if the world won’t live or die in the decision, I may make the logically wrong decision just to show that I can exert my free will and to feel victorious in the sense that even if I’m wrong or fail, at least I wasn’t controlled. I freely admit that this makes me very easy to manipulate if you can manage to trick me with well played reverse psychology, though I can usually see that shit coming a mile away.

This long ass diatribe of myself; all this self-knowledge has come about as a result of my astrological studies. I did not know these things about me when I was in the Navy and much of my childish attitude and standoffish nature could have been understood and then worked through had I this knowledge. I wasn’t a very self-aware individual then, but my foray into astrology changed all that and now I know why I feel ‘right’ when I hitchhike and cycle across the country, why foreign languages interest me, and why I can read Plato’s Republic like a bedtime story.

For those who are curious about astrology and would like a place to get a pretty detailed free natal chart, I direct you here. Mind you, it is a computer generated chart, so take some things with a grain of salt, but its a great starting point. I found mine through this site to be amazing ‘accurate,’ if such a word can be used, and I hope it will be of benefit to you. If you’d like to get into my head, HERE is my Natal Chart.

Categories: Astrology, Character Development, Emotion, Health, Leadership, philosophy, Self-improvement, Society, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Counterfeit FiveFingers and Business Practices

I think it is interesting that people often get angry with counterfeiters. The only reason to counterfeit anything is if there’s profit to be gained from doing it. In the case of FiveFingers, I think Vibram is really ‘shooting itself in the foot,’ pun INTENDED. Vibram’s are so expensive. So they’re worth counterfeiting. And people who can’t afford to buy the ‘real deal’ are the ones who are more than willing to buy knock offs, based on the idea, that ‘maybe they’re kinda the same?’

I myself am at a crossroads. I want Vibrams, I really do, BUT I can’t afford to drop 85 bucks for a pair o shoes, especially when they’re supposed to ‘mimic’ being barefoot. (why not just be barefoot?) I walk barefoot all the time, and I’ve read the literature on how unnatural shoes are and how they cause most of our ankle, knee, and spinal pains and issues. The only issue that I have is that in our insane culture we have to obey certain social conventions and wearing shoes is irritatingly one of these rules.

I can’t go to that consult barefoot. Resturaunts will not seat me without the proper attire, I.E. shoes. So my main concern in buuying a pair of Vibrams would really be more for cosmetic reasons than anything else. And this is what brings me to my dilemma. Why should I spend 85-150 bucks on a pair of shoes that claims to be ‘minimalist?’ Theres nothing minimalist about those prices. These ‘counterfeiters,’ these ‘bastards’ that make ‘fake’ Vibrams seem to be providing me with a public service.

What they do is only illegal according to the very confusing rules of our paticular social games. The fact is ‘these assholes’ are bringing fire to the people. They’re making these great products affordable for the common man. I can get knock off FiveFingers for about 20-30 bucks. That’s a 75% discount. That brings glove like, heelless foot wear into my financial realm of possibility, complete with all the podiatric health boons that come with it.

Now, why should I be against this? If I drop 30 bucks for a pair of knock offs and they’re half as good as the ‘real thing’ (as though these weren’t essentially the same damn thing) and they last me 6 months, I might spend $60 a year in FiverFinger(ish) footwear. If I compare that to the $100 pair of ‘authentic’ Vibrams that might last a year or even a year and a half at most, then it is far better for my wallet to buy the knock offs.

And as for the business practices of these ‘evil counterfeiters,’ it looks to me like they’ve just found another way to win the game. It is a very thin and very blurry line between ‘skill’ and ‘cheating,’ and the inferior intelligence will always accuse the superior intelligence of cheating the moment they use their brains. Vibram’s assault on these counterfeiters is essentially a philosophical pissing and whining. Vibram is saying, “We were having a business contest to see who could build the best shoe (and make the most money from it) and then you made shoes that are alot like ‘mine’ and sold them for less money (attracting more customers), and you’re not playing fair!”

Playing fair? What did you think Vibram? That you were the only one that could possibly concieve of a glove-like shoe for the feet? Did you really expect to have a monopoly on the intelligence and the tools that make ‘toe shoes’ possible? Of course you did. You did think you would have a monopoly, thats why you patented them; so that you could have that monopoly.

Using one of the very absurd (and progressively obstructive) maneuvers possible (patenting) in our complicated social game (litigation) you basically announced to the world that you have this great idea that could help everbody. You told us you had an amazing product that was going to be more natural, strengthen the human body, put us back in touch with the Earth and make use of the 200,000 nerve endings in the soles of our feet; a product that would ease and prevent joint pain and make us healthier and happier.

You told us all this and then what did you do? What did you do Vibram? Rather than share the idea that it may be collaboratively improved upon and bring about good health and a podiatric revolution, you instead decided to exclude the idea itelf from the common good and sell the product for an exorbitant price; forbidding and condemning anybody from attempting to make their own glove-like footwear and vilifying anyone who dares to sell a cheaper version of your product.

You have cheated the people.

Instead of bringing happiness to all (or even most) people, you like all the other greedy businesses of your ilk, have created a financial barrier to something good. You have engineered a social situation in which the only people who can have the kind of health benefits your footwear might bring are the kind of people who have enough money (or who want the product so bad that they manage to gather enough money) to drop 150 bucks on footwear.

So I say, good on the counterfeiters. Hooray, cheating counterfeiters, making a product that is very close to the original for a mere fraction of the price, thus begining to destroy the financial barrier to this type of product.

Vibram, the only way to stop the counterfeiters is to make your products affordable so that most people won’t have to seek out your competiton. Be content with lower profit margins, change your prices to match this acceptance of lower profit per unit, and watch your competition be snuffed out over night. As a consequence you’ll make more money than ever before as new customers flock to your doors choosing to buy ‘the real thing’ because it won’t break their wallet in half.

Your competition won’t be able to hold out, because at your new lower prices ‘the best deal they can offer’ will be about 10-20 bucks lower than your price, and people WILL pay slightly more money for the original, authentic design. But what they will most definitely NOT pay, is a price that is 60%, 70%, 80% higher than what they can get somewhere else, even if they’re not, ‘the real deal.’

So, you think about this Vibram and any company that operates under a similar methodology. Your greed is going to choke out your own business. Yes, you may be successful for a time, but it will not last, especially if this global economy continues to take a nose dive. People are going to start saving their pennies.

…It suddenly occurs to me that the failure of the business may actually be taken into account already. Perhaps thats the point, to start a business, sell a product with the intention to profiteer at the expense of the customer and even at the expen and eventual demise of the business itself (including all the employees counting on the business to stay open). Maybe the goal is to push product based on greed and when the profit dries up and the business’s failure is inevitable, the owners simply let the business die, take their money and move on; setting up a different business, selling a different product, but using the same formula.

And yet I wonder… Reader, your thoughts?

Categories: Blogging, Business, Character Development, Economics, Fitness, Government, Health, Leadership, Medicine, philosophy, Politics, Self-improvement, Society | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reblogging… AKA legal content theft.

My blog has just started to garner a bit of attention and already I am running into the phenomena of ‘reblogging.’ What the hell WordPress? I’ve searched in the forums and have seen that you allow this. I have found my content, my original, personally created content on some wierd ass sites that have exclusively reblogged content.

These sites where my writing appears, have created none of their own work. They just reblog posts from other blogs. Granted that it only takes a snippet of my post and provides a back link to my blog, but that’s not the point!

If my words and titles are on their site, does that influence search results? Am I losing traffic because what used to be my keywords and search terms are now associated with a spam blog that has commerical interests and can pay more money to be higher up in the search results?

Why would you allow this WordPress? And don’t tell me it was to make blogging easier. It was already pretty easy, it just takes time to generate consistent traffic and attract dedicated readers and followers. But blogging, by and large is pretty easy; it ain’t exactly digging ditches or working on a farm.

Press This wasn’t enough? Dig and Stumble Upon and the automatic Facebook update wasn’t enough? Twitter?

C’mon WordPress… this is just you blatantly allowing content theft.

Categories: Blogging, Building, Character Development, Leadership, online, philosophy, Politics, Society, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Looking for feedback.

First I’d like to start by thanking everyone who reads my articles. I really appreciate it. This is my first web page where I can rant and rave and post updates about my nutritional, philosophical, and sometimes political ideas.

I am curious though. Those of you who read, how do you like the site? Is it easy to access earlier articles? Do you find it easy to post comments and navigate the site?

Do you have any thoughts about how I can improve the site?

I Appreciate your thoughts.

Categories: Blogging, Building, Character Development, Friendship, online, philosophy, Politics, Self-improvement, Society, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thoughts about Religion Politics and the Idea of a Philosopher King.

Religion fascinates me, specifically the idea that people of religious affiliation are ‘grouped’ together. People born in America ‘tend’ to be raised Christian while people in China ‘tend’ to be raised in a Buddhist or Taoist fashion. I find it interesting that if my family, who are all Christian, had been born and raised in the Middle East they might have Muslim ideas. If they’d been native to India they’d probably have embrace Hindu philosophies.

 

It’s very interesting to consider how much influence social constructs (laws, religion, invisible geographic boundary lines, customs and tradition) have over our lives, and one must wonder to what extent their lives are actually their own. Do we live the way we do because we want to? Or are we just following the path that has been laid out for us? Even if one is not religious, how can one be sure that they are not still under the influence of ideas that originated in one’s native religion?

 

If one has changed spiritual paths, how can one be sure that they have not carried with them the philosophical seeds of the very ideas they strove to divorce themselves from and that they are not in fact, interpreting their new found spirituality through the lens of their old thinking and behavior?

 

Religion I do believe is a dangerous thing especially taught to children of young ages. Children are so… malleable, so blank and pure and when you consider the bloody histories of many of these religions, I think it is at best irresponsible and at worst completely evil to start uploading all these fucked up thoughts and mental structures into their pristine little minds. Especially if the teacher themselves has not critically examined their own beliefs.

 

And it raises the question, “Even if a child grows up and voluntarily decides NOT to be a part of the religion that raised them, can they ever really separate themselves from the effects of that religion?” They may not go to Church or attend their Wiccan Circles or pray at the Mosque, but do those ideas still influence their decisions?

 

Furthermore, what if one of these children becomes a man of wealth, influence, and power? Would they, completely unknowingly, foist their subtle philosophical principals upon the existing structure? I’ve been thinking about our culture and where our philosophical roots come from. Democracy is essentially mob rule, the majority wins, even if it is not ‘good.’ We take our political system from the Greeks and Romans, whereby those that were allowed to vote, debated on the issues of the time and cast their vote.

 

The result was supposed to be enacting decisions that were to be for the good of the community. But not everybody was ‘allowed’ to vote. Presumably only people capable of actually weighing the issues were allowed to vote, unlike today where anybody can vote; intelligent or not. This I think is one of the fundamental problems in our form of Democratic politics.

 

Now that was our basic political structure (ish). But the founding Fathers recognized another, very powerful social construct that if allowed, would graft itself to our political and legal system: Religion. To me it is quite clear that the FF (Founding Fathers) did everything they could to take religion OUT of the legalities and politics. Which is why there is the separation of church and state and why our initial political documents make no reference to a specific ‘god’ but rather use the purposely vague term, ‘Creator.’

 

Perhaps it was inevitable that Christianity as our basic spiritual framework would enmesh with our Democratic political framework. Consider this: Christianity very much contains an Us vs. Them mentality, that is to say, “Spiritual Power is on OUR side, so WE are right and YOU are wrong. If you are not with us, you are against us, and this is morally acceptable because our God can beat up your God.”

 

In Democratic voting you have all kinds of people who think many different ways. You think this way, and I think this way, and he thinks the other way and we’re all going to discuss it and try to come to an agreement about what should be done and this will be decided by voting for what we think is the best course of action. Sounds very civil, though it may not be effective if people’s votes can be ‘bought.’

 

But if you take Christianity’s Us vs. Them mentality along with their Power is on OUR side and you combine it with the Democratic system of voting, I think you would inevitably get a system that, even without religion’ devolves into “the Political Power (majority) is on OUR side, you are wrong, WE are right and this is Legally acceptable because under the rules of our particular political game, our party can beat up your party, and if you are not with US you are against us.”

 

Scary to think that even without the religion that we’re still operating under its influences. And remember the individual that acts as a catalyst for these ideas wouldn’t even be aware of what they were doing. They would have no clue that combining ideas is a lot like chemistry and that some should not be combined, lest they have terrible results.

 

What if the simple truth of people, the real low down on mass population, is that most people are generally unfit and not intelligent enough to act in a leadership capacity? If this is true, and it seems to be, then our entire political system is completely flawed, even without considering the underlying theocratic influences.

 

If we accept as true that most individuals are not capable of leading a nation (well and responsibly) does that statement imply an inverse concept? That it is possible for one man or a small group of individuals to lead a nation well and responsibly?

 

I think this is exactly true. What if a monarchy was really the best thing we had going for us, until religion grafted itself to the system? One man (and his advisors) ruled over things and made decisions, which if we accept that most people are not capable of weighing in on these decisions would really be the best thing. Free from political infighting a small group of presumably intelligent individuals (or at least intelligent enough to acquire power) would be led by one individual and when they made decisions there would be nothing to ‘get in the way.”

 

And maybe that’s what we need. Our cultural progress stagnates from Us vs. Them politics and essentially, ‘we get in our own way.’ If we paved the way for a handful of individuals to make clear decisions that could enact without opposition and jumping through hoops, we’d at least start moving in ‘some’ direction. Whether that direction if good or bad, we’d get there quickly and if it is good we allow it, and if it is bad I trust that the people would revolt and that Civil War would serve the necessary purpose of setting our governing back on track and would serve as a precedent for the future.

 

Future Kings and Queens (in my hypothetical monarchy) would think about making decisions and remember the Civil War of 2013 and think twice before attempting anything underhanded like taking our weapons. Because they’ll remember that the last time that was tried, the country nearly tore itself apart and it’s really hard to maintain power in a country that doesn’t exist. Therefore, it would be best NOT to destroy the thing you are trying to dominate.

 

The very idea of a monarchy scares Americans, because we think that one small group of rulers cannot be trusted and even less so one man. But in Greek philosophy there arises the idea of a Philosopher King. IF, and I admit it is a big if, one could put a Philosopher King on the throne, then everything will be fine as the leader would be a wise learned philosopher and would be intelligent and wise enough to know what to do and would theoretically be evolved enough as an individual to be above such petty things as the pursuit of wealth and political power.

 

The problem is in finding and installing such a Philosopher King. A Philosopher King by his very definition is enlightened and evolved and would presumably value the integrity of his spirit above the acquisition of power. He would be intelligent enough to know that power corrupts and that absolute power (which is what we’d want to give him) corrupts absolutely. Therefore he’d be wary of even the idea that he should be followed or allowed to wield such power.

 

In short, it would turn out that the right man for the job would be the very man that we can’t get to accept the position!

 

This individual would however possess a sense of honor and compassion towards his fellow man, such that the only way to make him take the throne (once we’ve found him) would be if there was no other alternative; that is, if the people were in such dire need enlightened guidance that our Philosopher King would be spiritually duty bound to accept the call against his intellectual Will.

 

And even then, because of his own fear of power, he would by nature establish means of checking himself and holding himself accountable. He would lead while adamantly asserting up and down that he ought not to be leading. And this would be to the peoples benefit as there would be someone in charge with the power to make things happen that would only make happen that which is good for the people and when nothing needed to be done, he would do just that: NOTHING!

 

Power should only be entrusted to one who is not looking for it, does not want it, would not use it, is actually afraid of personal corruption but if he absolutely had to, he would use power to be of mass benefit and then stop and go back to not using it.

 

Of course this raises the question of, “If the Philosopher King would not willingly take the throne, who should be the one to declare that such and such is the right man, and who should be the one to appoint him?

 

This leads to the idea that government and people must evolve together. One cannot have an enlightened ruler without having an enlightened society that would voluntarily and intelligently choose to put him there. The people may not be as evolved as the Philosopher King, but they would at least have to be enlightened enough to know that they needed one, and enlightened enough to recognize him when they saw him, yet not be enlightened enough to simply save themselves. For the PK would only accept the position if there was no other way and the enlightened society would have to be in incredibly dire straits that they (for some reason) could not (or did not) prevent using their own enlightened intelligence.

 

There we see an insight that gives us pause to ask a great question: IS government corrupt because it is government? Is it corrupt because the people are unenlightened and unevolved and put the government there in the first place? Did the people create their own monster that they now cannot control? And if the people did create their own monster, is it too late to rectify these mistakes, or is the beast to powerful to be tamed and controlled; must it in the end simply be put down?

Categories: Ancient Classics, Character Development, Fear, Government, Leadership, philosophy, Politics, Society, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1/25/12 Lift Heavy Things 3: LEVEL UP!

This is actually my third session of Lift Heavy Things (LHT). The first was my self assessment, the second happening about 3 days from then, and now we have this one. Here’s how it went:

Max Effort

Knee Push Ups- Goal 50- 1st Set 50- 2nd Set: 50

Full Squat- Goal 50- 1st Set 50- 2nd Set 50 LV UP

Jack Knife Press- Goal 20- 1st Set 20- 2nd Set 21

Forearm/Knee Plank- Goal 90 sec- 1st Set 90 sec- 2nd Set 90 sec LV UP

1 Leg Assisted Pull Ups- Goal 15- 1st Set 15- 2nd Set 15

Notes: I’m ready to step it up on my squats and my Planks, I think I’m accomplishing them too easy and in good form. So I’m Leveling Up. Yes, thats right. As though this were an Final Fantasy game, I’m Leveling Up.

I do have some thoughts about my results though… I’m noticing that my lower body is vastly stronger than my upper body. My squats are going to LV 5!!! and my Planks are moving up to LV 3 after only 10 days. Even when I look in a mirror I notice that my thighs are huge in comparison to the rest of me. And its not fat. My extremities don’t seem to have that much fat; its all pretty much centered around my ass, my abdomen, and my upper torso.

My upper body results leave something to be desired. I made the goals set, but Knee Push Ups are seriously kicking my ass (though not as much so it IS an improvement.) And I get the feeling that I am using too much ‘leg’ with my chair assisted pull ups.

I do love how the workout is truly a TOTAL body workout. One exercise I used to do for my lower back was hyperextension with a kettle bell. I think the planks pretty much take care of that now, in addition to all my other core muscles: abs, obliques, hip flexors. I even notice that proping myself up on my forearm works my upper back.

Full squats REALLY get the heart rate going. I remember back when I was going to the gym and eating a shit ton of carbs before my 20 minute morning cardio and then I would hit the free weights; and NEVER out of all those gym workouts with weights have I had my HR increase so fast and so powerfully than with these prisoner squats.

I love the Jack Knife Press. Its difficult, but I just like the movement; the muscles it works. I’m doing pretty good on them, I reached the goal today without too much of a ‘stop’ between reps, but I think I should continue until I can blast the full 20.

Categories: Character Development, Fitness, Health, Leadership, Medicine, Nutrition, Paleo, philosophy, Primal, Society | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prelude to my Primal Experiment. I was so strong before, what happened?

Ladies and Germs, for those that don’t know back in September of 2011 I went on a really long bike ride. I rode from Yakima WA to San Diego CA. It took about 55 days and I rode over 1700 miles living on $8-$11 a day. During the trip I became fascinated by a diet called the Paleolithic Diet. Far from being a fad diet, Paleo was about a lifestyle and  required many changes to bring ones life more closely aligned with how we’ve evolved over 2 million years. I won’t go into the details of Paleo living, literature abounds on the net. Google it yourself.

However I am here to tell you that for the duration of my trip I adopted the Paleo Diet and doing no ‘exercise,’ that is without setting aside a specific time to ‘train’ or ‘workout’ I lost 40 lbs in about 2 months. Many would say that my biking 30-50 miles a day on average helped. I’m sure it did, I’m sure the moving and the exertion of effort was a great factor into my weight loss and strength gain.

But I don’t believe thats all there was to it. I met many cyclists on the road who were no where near as fit as I had become. They had been cycling for years, they were around my age, and they’d been ‘exerting themselves’ for waaayy longer than I had, yet they had a mere fraction of the strength I’d only recently developed. What was the difference between us?

The one thing I noticed was our diets. Both the items we ate, the nutrient contents, and the money spent. They spent way more money, ate way more food, but stayed about the same. When I told them of the complete transformation that I was undergoing they wondered how it was possible that I would make such progress in such a short amount of time.

Consider these photos:

This is what I looked like before my trip in July of 2011. I didn't actually decide to take the plunge and go on my trip till September of that year.

And this photo:

This is me in a hotel in Garbersville CA, just 26 days into my cycling trip.

No pictures were taken unfortunately, but I looked even better by the time I got to San Diego and I was stronger, so much stronger than when I started.

What did I do? How did this progress happen in such a relatively short period of time? The only thing I’ve come up with is that I adopted a Primal Lifestyle. Part of it was a choice and part of it was just the necessities of cycling across the country with no money. I didn’t eat dairy products. No milk, cheese, yogurt. Where would I have put these things? I wasn’t packing a refridgerator on my bike; they would have spoiled. And they were expensive. Some travellers I saw would buy a half gallon of milk everytime they wanted a bowl of cereal. I don’t have that kind of cash nor a desire to drink that much milk in one sitting.  So travelling and financial necessity demanded that I give them up.

I learned how to listen to my body. Early on in my trip, grains just werent cuttin it for me. I love oatmeal, but it just wasn’t filling. Nor was pasta or rice. After a half hour of biking I would be ravenously hungry. From time to time I carried meat with me. I usually bought it in small quantities and only on rare occasions as it was, comparatively, expensive. I started to notice that on the mornings that I ate beef or chicken, I stayed full till my next planned snack/ lunch in 2.5-3 hours.

Grains stopped working for me, so I gave them up. I decided that meat wouldn’t be that expensive if I stopped buying grains. I knew I couldn’t afford to buy both grains and meat, but I figured that the money I’m not spending on grains I could reinvest into meat.

I of course ate ALOT of fruits and vegetables. Some I ate less frequently because of their cost (blueberries, blackberries, avacadoes) but when I added up what I was saving from not buying grains I found that I had money left over, even after buying meat. So I was able to gradually work these more expensive, but very healthy foods into my diet.

At some point, I realized that the fat in the meat was what kept me full and gave me energy for long bike rides. I worried about my carb intake. I figured that carbs were very important since I was cycling across the country and all. So I researched my foods on the internet to see how many carbs I was eating without bread and rice and oatmeal. I found I was still eating about 150- 170 g of carbs a day. My fruit and vegetables were full of them!!

I began to research low carb diets on the internet to see if eating such a low amount of carbs was healthy for me. This is when I came across the Paleolithic Diet. You can read about the diet on your own time, but during my cycling trip my body had basically been telling me to eat almost exactly the way The Caveman diet described.

Once I include eggs (yes I found a way to carry them on my bike) nuts, and a bottle of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) I was set, my food costs did jump to a outrageous $8 a day on their own, but even if you add the average $5 a night it cost me to camp in the Hiker/ Biker sections of State Parks, I was living an incredibly nutrition, healthy, active, and most importantly FUN lifestyle on $13 bucks a day!!!

This is why I think the ruling powers in our society hate vagabonders and generally disdain adventurous travel. Its so friggen cheap!! And Good for you!! You can’t make money off the vagabonder. He eats low cost nutritious food so theres no money to get out of him for overpriced, unhealthy, processed foods. He’s active all day, so his immune system is powerful and he almost never gets sick and even when he does, water and proper rest usually sees him back on his feet in a day or two, so pending any catastrophic genetic health disorders, theres no money to be made off him in pharmacutical drugs or medical tests or hospital bills.

He’s content to live simply, and doesn’t go to excess, but doesn’t neglect what is fundamentally important to him: his health and quality of life. And he understand that the quality of his health, is the quality of his life. He’s also smart enough to know, that it doesn’t take much to be healthy.

Now, I told you that to tell you this. I am currently in Providence KY. I have been here with my parents for a little over a month. Recently, I’ve been on their diet; I eat what they eat. They eat: Bread, Rice, Fried Meats, Pasta, things that are supposed to be good for you. I also go for runs and jogs. I’m not exactly biking 30-50 miles a day, but I’ve still been kinda of active; I run 3 miles a session for about 2-3 sessions a week; 6-9 miles a week. I’ve also occasionally had a few sessions of push ups and crunches. Not a lot of activity, but not sedentary either. I’ve been eating what they eat for about a month. This is what I look like now:

January 15 what I look like after eating my parents high carb diet for 1 month

So what happened? Heres what has changed: I’m not NEARLY as active as I was during my trip. I’m eating grains again, which I wasn’t doing. Because grains are basically ’empty’ carbs I’m essentially eating sugars (thats what carbs are) that have no nutritional value, or we could say that I am eating carbs that have ‘some’ nutritional value, but no nutrient that I couldn’t get from better fruit and vegetable based sources.

I think that I can reproduce the fast and dramatic results from my cycling trip. The Primal Blueprint sounds about like what I was doing on my trip. Low carb, high fat, moderate protein, lots of low impact exercises, with sessions of short high intensity physical exertion. Yes, cycling across the country, when taken day by day, mile by mile, is a fairly low impact activity. The cycling wasn’t difficult except when I had to grind up the hills and the switchbacks. Other than that, it was fairly low intensity; I just kept plugging along.

The constant activity, combined with with what was essentially a Primal Diet, resulted in pounds melting off me and improved physical strength. The only major difference between what I was doing and a Paleo/ Primal lifestyle was the type of exercise I did. Cycling is defnitely cardio and Primal frowns on Chronic Cardio and instead focuses more on strength training and building lean muscle mass to burn calories.

So I am planning an experiment. I will follow a Primal lifestyle for 1 whole month and see if I notice a significant difference either in my physique or in ‘the way I feel.’ I will post regular updates here and possibly videos on my Youtube account. Details of the experiment to follow in another post.

Have fun watching me ‘Go Primal.’

Categories: Character Development, Fitness, Health, Leadership, Medicine, Nutrition, philosophy, Primal, Society | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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