Have Gun. Will Travel.

 

 

I had planned an entirely different blog for today.  And, I had never planned to introduce this material to this blog but, to another with a different focus.  But, because of recent events, I feel this post and the accompanying offer is time sensitive and important and, I don’t feel good about putting it off.

We, in the US specifically and the Western World generally, are living in an increasingly uncertain and sometimes violent reality.  Turn on the news.  You’ll see it.  From riots on college campuses, to marches turned violent, to violently criminal alien individuals, to organized protests at airports and other, unavoidable high-traffic areas.  If this progresses, it won’t be long before we start to see high schools and shopping malls become the targets of the various movements in an attempt to normalize crisis (a common tactic early in revolutionary movements).  The left in this country has specifically said they desire to “fight in the streets” and, given recent observations, I’m going to take them at their word.  I think you should, too.

Much of this sort of escalated agitation is the result of authorities, like the Berkley PD, sitting idly by while the destruction at the University of California took place last week.  This lack of action on the part of the “adults” emboldens the destructive elements in the Neo-Nihilist movement.  By having no tangible repercussions for their violent actions, it encourages more people to get involved in the more radical elements of the mob and gives the new, “unblooded” members of that community the opportunity to gain street cred in the movement… which in turn breeds more of the same in the future.

Something is about to give.  I would not rule out Federal involvement on the enforcement level.  Particularly if the local police forces continue the non-action of Berkley last week.  But, even if that happens, it will be messy.  And, it doesn’t do much to protect the individual victim of violent crime.  We’re headed to Hell in a handcart, and we’re making good time.  And, that brings us to the real point of this blog post…

Many of you reading this know me personally from one stage or another in my life.  Additionally, you have probably picked up a little about my perspective on the world and the broad strokes of my background and possibly even a couple of specifics from my social media content.  The short story is, I have spent my 47 years, in one way or another, studying, engaging in, and teaching violence.  I don’t believe that makes me an expert.  I don’t believe I have nothing left to learn.  But, it does confer a certain amount of experience that many, who have lived more peaceful lives, don’t possess.

Hence… this blog’s title: “Have Gun.  Will Travel.”  Please don’t take that literally.  I’m not going on a vigilante tour.  But, metaphorically speaking, I am offering my services.

In advance of the full roll-out of a new venture sharing my experiential evolution of violence education, I want to offer my services, in seminar format, to any and all good people who want/need it in this screwy social situation we all find ourselves in.

If you are an employer with employees you care about, please contact me.  If you are a frequent business traveler, please contact me.  If you have children enrolled in high school through college whose safety is a concern, please contact me.  If you have a book club whose members might be vulnerable or just want some piece of mind, please contact me. If you are a martial arts student who would like to understand how to translate your training into functional personal protection, please contact me.  If you have a group of friends who want to increase their personal safety profile, please contact me.  Male, female, and other.  This is not a gender or age specific offer.  And, men need this awareness of their world as much, sometimes more than women.  This is not an environment for macho overestimation of your capacities.

There is a fee and other specifics for this seminar training that we can discuss offline.  And, per the title, I am willing and able to travel to your location.  Domestic or international.  This is not an idle offer.  It is as genuine as they come.  Please contact me via the methods below.

 

Les Leslie

e-mail:  yeoman.method@gmail.com  (subject line: training)

cell:  605.929.9760

landline:  434.933.3054

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History Rhymes

 

Like the man says… “battle lines are being drawn”.  But, over what?  Why?  And what’s really behind it?

I have been laughed at in the past for pointing out the Czarist/Menshevik/Bolshevik parallels of the past and present.  And, upon further reflection, I may have been missing a piece of the revolutionary puzzle when analyzing the current situation.  Let me attempt to correct that here.

Emperor Zero (my pet name for our previous POTUS) allowed an awful lot of malignant stars to line up during his 8 year reign.  From being completely silent on the country’s increasing social and racial unrest, to maligning certain segments of American culture and population, to economic policies that left growth stagnant, to his UN-centric worldview, to his opening the refugee and “immigration” flood gates, to his deliberate lack of military maintenance, to a limp-wristed foreign policy, he left a diminished country to his successor.  He essentially gathered all the explosive kindling he could find and left it dry and ready to combust with the least amount of provocation.

Enter Trump.  Direct, to the point, and on a mission to fulfill the campaign promises that elevated him the status of President.  He has spent his first two weeks in office doing what needs to be done, maybe in an overtly, inartful way (this of course can be debated if you look past the surface and understand a bit about A-type, win-driven personality with an influential dose of Machiavellian strategy), to correct what was about to be the USA’s death spiral and to avoid what would otherwise be a final and spectacular, fiery end of the world as we know it.  There is a collapse coming, if you didn’t know, and we were on a sure collision course for it.  Any way you look at it though, Trump and his actions have been a very real ignition source applied to the kindling his predecessor left in his wake.

Then you have the denizens of the “swamp”.  The legislators, the media, and the career bureaucrats.  To continue the revolutionary parallels, you have the Mensheviks (legislators on the “right”), the Bolsheviks (legislators on the “left”), the media “useful idiots” (to use Lenin’s terminology), and the various bureaucratic “Deep State” types aligned with one faction or another of the political spectrum…  All these forces are acting in one way or another as the fuel and accelerant for our budding societal blaze.

All the above are easily visible and analogous to well-known revolutionary history.  What’s more difficult to pin down historically, though, is the protestors/rioters.  That actually is a bit better hidden by time and poor historical education.  Boys and girls, let’s have a talk about Nihilism.

For about 20 years, starting in 1860 (during the Civil War/War of Secession/War of Northern Aggression and Reconstruction era of the United States) there was a revolution taking place in Russia.  Not “the” Russian Revolution per se but, a revolution none the less.  This was still Czarist Russia and prior to the introduction of Marxism and Socialism to the socio-econo-political landscape in Russia.  This revolution was not nearly as “refined” and focused a move as the failed 1905 Russian Revolution or the more successful 1917 February and October Revolutions of the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks respectively.  1860 marked a loosely organized, undisciplined youth movement born of a newfound freedom under Czar Alexander II.

Alexander II was a reformer.  Assuming the throne in 1855, his personal mission was to negotiate a peace deal with the power players in Europe and to “free the peasants” of Russia.  This freeing of the peasantry resulted in a class of “independent communal proprietors” colloquially known as the “New People” with rights far exceeding any other European peasantry of the time.  Alexander II also implemented significant reforms in the military, judiciary and in terms of local self-governance.

The new-found emancipation of the New People gave them the rights to discuss and protest the practices of the past and a healthy disregard for conventional, traditional, Russian standards, customs, and cultural norms.  The impressionable youth of the time took to dressing in provocative and flamboyant ways and were notably “unwashed” in appearance due to a rather ascetic lifestyle born of the freedom to do what they wanted coupled with a lack of resources and money to do better.  Everything social and authoritative was questioned and rebelled against.  The youth smoked, they didn’t wash, they wore blue tinted glasses, they spoke in profanity and highly vulgar language, they pushed for the emancipation of women in the workplace, academia, and in terms of sexual freedom…  Is any of this sounding familiar?

Literature was the popular culture medium of the era and the most popular literature was focused on the issues of perceived oppression resulting from the relative poverty of the New People.  They had freedom but they had no means.  Frustrated and vulnerable to suggestion the New People were infiltrated by radical, militant groups who formed secret societies and, as a result, they agitated, protested and eventually, it all boiled over into riots and wholesale violence.  The New People were being steered into lashing out at circumstances beyond their control, set in motion by a well-meaning government that had given them rights but had not prepared them for them for the harsh realities of independent adulthood.  Because of the unrest, Alexander II’s government had no choice but to crack down and attempt to restore order… resulting in a new sort of perceived oppression that was met with more of the same social response.  This is the perpetual story of the rise in socialistic economic thought and the subsequent rise of totalitarian governmental response.

This questioning of all authority, coupled with the freedom to do it, economics that didn’t support it, and the instigation of secret, radical elements like “Land and Freedom” became the Nihilist Movement.  You have to understand that the current situation with the contemporary Black Lives Matter, Anti-Facist, Angry Vaginas, and any number of other movements are completely analog to the Nihilist Movement.  Yes, there are factors that are different, there is no such thing as a perfect historical allegory.  As Mark Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

The Nihilist Movement and the resultant governmental crack down set the stage for the later Russian Revolutions and the totalitarianism that followed a la the United Soviet Socialist Republics.  Given all that you’ve read above, let’s give that some consideration against the backdrop of contemporary US reality.

We are currently experiencing our own Nihilist Movement.  Let’s call them the “Neo-Nihilists”.  They are the under-educated, over-privileged, youth of our nation.  They are impressionable, have lots of freedom, don’t like rules or adults, are unemployed in a struggling/failing economy yet want to possess what they perceive as an adult level of material affluence, and are unwilling to accept any responsibility for their actions or failures.  Things are not going the way that they’d like so, under the protection of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution, they protest.  Which, on the face of it, is fine.  But, their movements have been infiltrated by violent, militant radicals… ranging from the Antifa Black Bloc to  Muhammedan terror cells.  And, their strings are being pulled via tacit permission from embedded government factions such as the afore mentioned Mensheviks and Bolsheviks who are two sides of the same coin simply jockeying for position in the New World Order (I didn’t make that up… George HW Bush publicly started it and John McCain recently confirmed it…).  Further, the useful idiots in the press are simply fanning the flames by framing events in slanted ways and through blatant lies.  In the end, what might be a peaceful protest against a perceived wrong turns violent via a movement populated by well-meaning but impressionable folks turned militant.  The Neo-Nihilists have allowed themselves to become an insurgency.  A terror group opposed to the very rights and freedoms they pay lip service to by violently suppressing any thought that is contrary to the thoughts they are being fed by their puppet masters.  How sustainable do you think that movement is?

On the other side of the equation, we have a new Presidential Administration that is desperately attempting to turn the tide of an impending national, if not global, economic collapse and submission to a particularly virile, barbaric strain of theocratic authoritarianism.  Think what you want about all religions being equal but, Islam is not a “religion of peace”.  A cursory glance at history and scripture will tell you that.  Our new administration understands that to correct things quickly enough to avoid the inevitable, we have to move fast and maybe more aggressively than we are comfortable with.  And, one of the obstacles/distractions to that aggressive correction is the violence being perpetrated in the name of protest.  This will lead to violent governmental response.  Both domestically and internationally.  It is inevitable.  And, unfortunately, it is going to be necessary if we’d like the USA and western culture to survive into the next century.

The reality is that Nihilism, allowed to progress to its natural conclusion, is Anarchy.  Anarchy is a form of vacuum.  And, as per Aristotle, “Nature abhors a vacuum”.  Human nature is such that if there is a void of leadership and rules, someone will step in and impose them.  I, for one, would prefer to simply abide by the cultural norms (the devil we know) based on Natural Law and Enlightenment Thinking that made this country great instead of allowing it all to collapse around us and to have a totalitarian unknown (the devil we don’t) take the reins.

Trump will be unpleasant at times.  He’ll be brash and abrasive.  But, we’ve seen what meek and spineless, “Hope and Change” achieved.  Love him or hate him, Donald Trump and his full-throated America First world-view is the only way to American longevity and prosperity.  I’m convinced he loves his country.  He means to get results and to wrest control of our country back from those who would plunder our wealth for their own twisted agendae.  It will get worse before it gets better.  But, that’s our fault for allowing liberty to slip through our hands by being over-permissive and passive about things that might chafe at times but are necessary to ordered, free society.

Finally, I think of it in terms of this… If the left stops fighting, it will be the end of the current violence.  If the patriot stops fighting, it will be the end of the USA as we know it.  And, while Trump/we have enemies, and we’ll make more…  show me a man without enemies and I’ll show you a man who’s never stood for shit.  The Neo-Nihilist cancer can’t be allowed to metastasize further.  This is our last chance to mount our counter-insurgency.  It’s going to get bloody… and, I’m OK with that if it means that we get to keep our country.

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Hold Our Beer…

I am, very much, a philosophic product of the Reagan era and I came of age during his administration.

I remember that time very well.  When he was elected I was 10 years old and was 11 when he was inaugurated.  By the time he left office, I had joined the Army.  I remember his predecessors back to Nixon as well.  I remember my parents being very pro-Carter… To the degree that my mother dragged me along with her, door to door, campaigning for Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale.  I remember the heartbreak at our house when Carter’s era of a weakened America and horrible gas prices was over.  And, I remember the Iranian hostages being freed.

Despite my parents’ dislike for him and all that he stood for, I liked President Reagan.  He had hope.  He made his opponents crazy.  That’s not to say that his administration got everything right, but, he genuinely loved his country.  And, he inspired the teenage me in ways that still effect the way I see the world.

Last night, I watched a different man partake of a pre-inaugural celebration.  A man who, like Reagan, is despised by his opposition.  Like Reagan, his fellow party members have done everything they could to keep him from being nominated and subsequently elected.  Like Reagan, Donald Trump was previously a Democrat who feels that the party no longer represents his values and, as a result, he moved on.  Reagan didn’t have the right pedigree… he was <gasp> an actor.  He despised Marxists.  And he was a “cowboy” who was going to turn the Cold War into a shooting war.  I don’t know that I’d call him a Republican… yet.  Reagan had to reshape the party in his day.  He reshaped the country.  And he reshaped the world.  It appears that Trump is on course to do the same.  But, in many ways, Trump seems to be beyond party.  At least as we have known it for the past 25 years.

Trump is interesting.  I didn’t like him at first.  I suspected that his run was a simple publicity stunt.  The flight of fancy of an aging billionaire who had tired of the mundane and was looking for some cheap thrills.  He struck me as a carnival barker and little else.  Then, I watched him start to dismantle the anointed, better pedigreed, duplicitous Republican candidates whom I despised.  Still, I wasn’t convinced.  Parts of his message resonated with me but, I couldn’t un-jade myself long enough to believe that he was any different than any other monied, New York, liberal… after all, there were a lot of things he was saying that his previous statements and political contributions countered.  And there was that “America First” message.

His message coalesced over time.  He continued to say things that everyday Americans said and needed to be said on the national stage.  He openly mocked his opponents… very un-statesman like.  He talked like he was from a work crew or an infantry platoon.  He pointed out truths that, to working Americans, were self-evident.  He was disrespected, written off, and belittled in the same way the working man has been for decades and by the same elitist assholes.  And, he kept winning.

His party hated him.  The other party hated him. The international powers that be hated him.  And he was nominated.  He entered the General Election cycle against the most monied, corrupt, preordained, candidate in the history of the United States.  And, despite bad press piece after faux pas after political character assassination attempt, his campaign rally crowds grew to rock concert proportions.  And the Trump Train’s momentum grew.

I sat up until 3 am on November 9th watching in jubilant disbelief as my country finally screwed it’s head on right for the first time in nearly 4 decades and elected a man who gave a shit about the same things I do.  If Hillary had won, my country was doomed to a miserable, final decline into God knows what Marxist, tin pot abyss… and I had nearly been ready to throw in the towel and give up on humanity-at-large.

The last two months have been entertaining.  With the usual suspects still lining up to tell the world everything they see as wrong with Trump.  Wringing their hands, lashing out, wetting themselves, breaking things, and just generally making a scene.  This is true on both “sides” of the political spectrum.  All sides hate him.  All sides except those who I see as wanting America to succeed.

Last night though, was fantastic.  Breaking with tradition, Trump had a pre-inaugural celebration.  On the Mall at the Lincoln Memorial.  I’m not sure I like the fact that he’s linking his legacy with a President who was shot dead… I’m just hoping it’s not prophetic.  And, I’m not crazy about the fact that like another assassinated President, Kennedy, he’s making a run at the CIA and the Federal Reserve Bank.  Again, I hope that’s not prophetic.  But, what I saw last night, and with the breaking with tradition in terms of the pre-inaugural and today’s swearing in at the Lincoln Memorial as opposed to on the Capitol steps… I see a man who understands that America is a place to celebrate breaking with stale tradition.  It is a place where the common man matters and bureaucrats serve.  It’s a place where message matters more than polished pitch.  And, it’s still a place where love of country trumps love of power.

I’m not a terribly emotive personality, regularly.  But, honestly, watching the carnival barker cum champion of American Exceptionalism celebrate and take the stage last night was all but tear jerking for me.  Watching fireworks mirrored in the Reflecting Pool over the mall, stunning.  Reagan inspired in me a love of country that I enlisted in the Army and went to war willing to die for.  Trump gives me that same sense of reverence of America.  Muscular, unapologetic, cowboy-esque, red blooded Americanism.  Say what you will about the Trump personally, but, that man loves his country and wants it to succeed… maybe as much as Reagan did… or I do.

Good morning, World.  America’s back, apologies for our absence.  What did we miss while we were gone?  Hold our beer…

Tantrums

Every parent has experienced it.  Every adult has witnessed it.  It’s always unpleasant.  It’s the tantrum.

As a parent, you can run headlong into this awful and embarrassing social behavior any number of ways.  Almost always they result from some seemingly innocent occurrence and balloon into some unmanageable, socially unacceptable, debacle.   Your child, of whatever age, doesn’t get their way about something, and they decide to roll the dice by testing your will and imposing theirs.

It starts innocently enough.  A request for something that, as parents, we know isn’t good for them or just isn’t possible.  We say “no”.  The request becomes more insistent.  Still the answer is “no”.  The volume increases and demands are made.  The answer remains, “no”.  Ultimatums are levied, aspersions are cast, and potted plants are turned over.  Reason has failed and it’s time for the adults to intervene or to be held hostage in our own homes.

The first step of intervention probably looks a lot like “time-out”.  Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t.  Again, we must determine if we are willing to be held hostage. Maybe, depending on the age of our subject, time-out becomes a revocation of a privilege or a grounding.  But, what happens if things have truly gone to hell in a handcart?  Again, are we to be held hostage to a request for something we can’t give?  If the answer is still “no”… that’s why spanking was invented.  Not physical abuse but, attention getting by way of physical correction.

We seem to be asking ourselves as a society, a lot lately, what is going on in the world with the demonstrations, riots, flag burnings, vote recounts, ad nauseum.  The short answer is, we are experiencing a global tantrum.

We have for years now, been assailed by requests for more and more stuff that we, as adults, know is not good for “the children” or ourselves.  We have been asked to indulge them in all sorts of crazy behavior and material goods.  Finally, we have decided that we’ve traveled far enough down this road and it’s time to put on the brakes.  For everyone’s benefit.  Whether they realize it or not.  On 8 November, 2016, we finally regrouped, as adults, and said “no”.  And that’s when the tantrum started in earnest.

The overlarge children who are throwing said tantrum are taking a big breath and winding up for the mother of all hissy fits.  They mean to have their way with the household and they are convinced that if they simply make enough noise and break enough china, we are going to submit.  They are pitting their will against ours.  So, we have some decisions to make.  Are we to become hostages in our own house?  Are we willing to acquiesce to the will of a spoiled child simply to keep the peace?  Or, are we to stand our ground and do, what may be unpleasant for all involved but is, the right thing.

For now, we seem to be moving into the “ignore” stage of the continuum.  The point at which, we’ve decided to stop giving feedback to the tantrum thrower, despite the fact that they are starting to get out of hand and have the family dog hiding under the kitchen table.  If they continue on course and double down, we will be forced to intervene.  What might that look like?  Well, it might simply be that we are going to cut off some funding, thereby prohibiting some privileged behavior.  It might be that we have to put some of the tantrum throwers in jail overnight… “time-out”.  Or… we may have a really special case here who thinks that they have and can press their advantage to the point that we have no alternative but to physically intervene and, spank.

 

Spanking isn’t what any of us wants.  But, at what point do we say, enough is enough?  We can’t be held hostage and we can’t allow the children to break all the stuff and endanger themselves and others.  At that point something must be done.  I think that as responsible adults, we should give this some serious thought and plan our way forward… hoping that it doesn’t come to that.  As for the “children” who may be reading…

 

Sex is Fun

Anyone who has ever been out of work knows how difficult it can be.  No matter the circumstances surrounding your situation, no matter the reasons you’re out of work, the reality of it gnaws at your soul.  It makes you question your self worth.

President-Elect Donald Trump made news this week by convincing the Carrier Corporation to partially renege on it’s plans to send thousands of jobs out of the US and to Mexico.  Unsurprising of this political climate, he is taking fire for doing so.  Suddenly, it’s as if, keeping American jobs in the hands of Americans is a bad thing.  As if it were a partisan issue of some sort.

To my mind, the only thing partisan about the issue, is how we go about it.  To illustrate the different approaches, please watch the clips below.  I’ll pick up my commentary from there:

First, let’s establish something that we, as Americans, can all agree on.  Presidents are elected to serve the people.  That statement was revolutionary 250 years ago.  Not today.  Additionally, it is a widely held belief that to get ahead economically, you don’t give away what you currently have and simply attempt to replace it with some new thing hoping it’s going to be as good.  You conserve what you have and you build on that.

Yet, in clip one, our sitting President is telling people that essentially, the situation is hopeless and they should get on with it.  The language is telling.  The language is defeatist.  The language is dismissive.  And, most of all, the language is flippant and rude.  I don’t consider any of those qualities “presidential”.  I certainly don’t expect that sort of thing from one who is to be serving the public who elected him.

In clip two, a man who has not yet “ascended” to the office of President, felt compelled to revisit a deal that has been done for a year and a half.  His inspiration to do so was that someone had taken something that he had not meant to say and pinned their hopes to it.  Donald Trump felt an obligation to make good on a promise he didn’t even know he made.  As a result, roughly 1000 jobs that were going to disappear from the US economy are going to remain in the US.  How, exactly is that a bad thing?  Again, the language is telling.  It’s delivery is maybe not as polished but, it is humble and sincere.  The man acted on a feeling of obligation to his constituents.  That is “Presidential”.

To be fair to President Obama, he did express a need to train people for the future in preparation for the inevitable march of technology and the fact that some jobs are, over time going to become obsolete.  But, that’s only a part of the equation.  That ignores the part where you “conserve” what you have.

And, again, to be fair, maybe Mr Obama doesn’t possess the knowledge of the business world or possess the negotiating skills that Mr Trump does.  That’s fine.  Presidents are not supposed to be able to do everything.  However, good executives delegate tasks such as those.  Maybe Mr Obama’s Secretaries of Commerce or Labor should have looked more closely at Carrier a year and a half ago and made some different recommendations to their President and intervened on behalf of the American people.

And, then there are those decrying the fact that the State of Indiana is going to kick in $7 million in incentives for Carrier.  OMG.  $7M?  Really?  That’s a lot of money… right?  Well, let’s put that in perspective.

Some grad student somewhere is going to blow 7 million in federal grant money on coke and hookers this year studying whether or not sex is fun.  On the other hand, if those Carrier employees make an average of $50,000 a year, Carrier is going to spend $50,000,000 in payroll on those 1000 jobs.  That’s right.  50 million.  This year.  Take the 7 million away from that and you still have a net win of $43 million for the American worker.  Anyone who can’t figure that out is just bad at math and should probably stay out of the conversation.

It used to be that we celebrated American wins.  Just as I’m sure that the Brits celebrate British wins, and the Chinese celebrate Chinese wins.  It’s natural, and it’s good.  But, somewhere along the line, we decided that a win was only worth celebrating if our political party created it.  For my part, I don’t care who negotiates a net gain of 1000 blue collar jobs.  That’s 1000 people who are going to not have to question their self worth this Christmas.  That’s 1000 American families who will be better off.

And for that $7 million grant awardee of a grad student…  let me save you some time and the government some money:

Sex Is Fun.

Living in the Matrix

Let me start this blog with a clarification of terms.  Those terms are “Reaction” and “Response”.  Most people use them interchangeably but, I don’t.  For me, “Reaction” tends to connote a knee-jerk of some sort.  Whereas, “Response” is more measured and something that is prepared for.  With that out of the way…

The news cycle of the last coupled days has been saturated with the events at Ohio State University and the terrorist incident there.  Yes, I’m going out on a limb and calling the event “Terrorism”.

The auxiliary conversation has surrounded the encouraged protocol of “Run, Hide, Fight”.  First, there was shock in the news media that such a plan existed and then it morphed into “the story”.

There has been debate, by various commentators about whether that is advisable.  Then there is debate from the “active response” community about if there are better methods.  The debate ranges from:

Run, Hide, Fight to…

Avoid, Deny, Defend to…

Move, Escape, or Attack to…

Shoot, Move, Communicate (my favorite and derived from my Army days)

Unfortunately, those methods, for most people, represent distinctions without a difference.  Under the correct circumstances and with adequate training, I suppose any of these approaches work but, my real beef with all of these conveniently packaged mnemonic devices is that they start in the middle of the program.  They completely ignore the fact that if you don’t do some things first, you are stuck in “reaction mode” and unable to “respond”.  So, to avoid having to react and to enable response, what do we have to do?

The short answer is, we have to stop being distracted.  We all tend to be entirely too tunnel-visioned.  We walk down the street scrolling through our Facebook newsfeed.  We wear earbuds projecting music at volume levels that compete with jackhammers.  We have “gun free zones” where nothing bad could ever happen by virtue of fiat.  In short, we allow ourselves to exist, sense-free, unaware of the reality that surrounds us.  If we ever hope to respond to things that happen, in a measured way that doesn’t make things worse, we have to stop being distracted.  I’ll attempt to illustrate this idea with an anecdote.

Early in my study of the martial arts, I was constantly amazed at my seniors’, seemingly magical ability to respond to any variety of attacks by smooth avoidance, redirection, or interception.  It was as if, they knew what would happen before it did.  I tried and tried to reproduce their results but I found that I consistently moved too late or moved too soon.  I discovered that some of my failure was connected to me being too close to the attack to respond well.  So, I adjusted my distance.  That helped but it didn’t solve the problem.  I tried to guess when things would happen… no dice.  I attempted to hasten my reaction time.  Again, no joy.

One day, I was watching some video footage of my teacher and what I noticed was that when he was teaching, he was constantly moving.  Even when he was doing nothing but talking.  He was moving his feet, he was moving his hands, he was turning his head, his eyes were up and he was aware of the room.  And when I attended class again, I tried to emulate that.  I didn’t allow myself to stand still.  I continued to move, even during training breaks.  I continued to move between techniques.  I started to apply that same principle in my day to day life.  At work, I practiced never standing still, never sitting down, never leaning on anything.  And over time and with lots of practice, I started seeing things begin to happen.  That’s right.  I didn’t just see the result of an action… I saw actions begin.

Since I was seeing actions at their inception and since I was already on the move, I was uniquely positioned to be able to respond.  I could choose not to be there when some heavy object fell over.  I could choose to reach out and catch the glass falling off a counter.  I was living in the Matrix. 😉

This approach to response vs reaction is key because, human psychology tends to make us freeze when something unexpected happens.  Our brains are telling us to stop and decide.  But, in life and death situations, freezing can get you killed.  If you are already moving and aware of your surroundings, your body and brain are already engaged and making a series of decisions and acting on them.  That decision about how to respond to that action you are watching happen is just one decision in a series.  You’re already warmed up, your body and brain and its decision-making process is limber.  You are not starting from a static point, reacting to something that has already transpired.  This is true mentally as well as physically.  It is true literally as well as metaphorically.

So, my advice to all of you for all those unexpected things that happen, from falling objects to terror attacks is… prepare by moving.  Don’t wait until something has occurred to move.  By then, it’s too late.  Preparation by movement will make you appear to be able to see into the future.  You may not be Neo but, you’ll be much better prepared for the unexpected.

Red pill or Blue pill… the choice is yours.

Coffee and Castro

I awoke this morning to a cup of strong coffee and the news that Fidel Castro had died.  The java and the news were welcome.

From the autumn of 1995 to the spring of 1996 I was deployed with my unit to Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in support of Operation Sea Signal.  Our mission there was to assist with a large influx of Cuban refugees who had been picked up at sea by the US Coast Guard while attempting to flee Castro’s regime in late 1994.  The flotilla of makeshift rafts was so large that the US Gov’t had difficulty justifying sending them back as is normal procedure for refugees intercepted at sea.  They were transported to Ft Sherman, Panama for processing.  Due to the fact that there were some Castro plants in the group, riots were incited and there were US soldiers injured.  The US decided to airlift the refugees to GITMO where there were better confinement facilities and better geographic proximity to both the US and to Cuba.  Enter Me.

Our company’s mission, in part, was to oversee day to day operations of “Migrant Camp Delta”, one of several, and to assist the vetting of the refugees to determine if they were eligible for entry into the US.  If they were ineligible for US residency, we quarantined them and transported them once a week, on Thursdays, back across the Cuban border and handed them off to Castro’s guys.  And in a couple cases, we transported them to the airport and handed them off to US Marshals to return them to Castro’s guys.

The first morning of the Camp Delta mission, I found myself sitting alone in the Command Post at the top of the hill overlooking the camp.  I had two gate guards posted about 250 meters to my front and down a hill.  I watched the sun rise and listened to a Mr Coffee brew a cup of typically bad Army coffee.

At about 6:30 that morning, and one cup of coffee into my day, I watched an older gentleman walk out of the camp’s gate and up the hill to my CP.  He entered, nodded to me, and without a word, began sweeping the CP and tidying up.  I was perplexed.  Who was this Cuban, sixty-something and why was he in my Command Post?  Didn’t he know I was in charge and watching the sunrise?

Fifteen minutes later, he’d finished his self-appointed housekeeping duties and turned to me and asked, in Spanish, if I liked coffee.  Again, I was perplexed.  It had to be fairly obvious from the cup in my hand that I was enjoying the stuff… truth be told the coffee was awful but, in the absence of coffee, any coffee is good coffee.  I told him that I did and he immediately poured the rest of my mostly full pot on the ground outside the CP.  Now, I wasn’t just confused.  I was angry.

Upon returning with my, now, empty pot, he introduced himself as Tomás and informed me that he was going to make me a “real” pot of coffee.  He proceeded to make another pot… just as I had done earlier, and when it was done brewing, he threw out the grounds, replaced them with fresh grounds and recycled the fresh pot through the replacement grounds.  When the pot had brewed for the second time, he poured a cup, doctored it up with creamer and sugar, and handed it over as if he had just produced me a culinary masterpiece.  As it turned out, his pride in the concoction wasn’t misplaced.  That was the best cup of coffee I had ever experienced.

That September morning, in addition to becoming a coffee snob, I learned all about Tomás and his life.  He had been a Cuban merchant marine and could tell you, in days and hours, how long it took to get to any Communist port in the world from Havana.  He had 2 sons who lived in Buffalo, NY.  And… he hated the Castro brothers, Ché Guevara, and Communists.

That morning, for whatever reason, Tomás took a shine to a young infantry NCO, and proceeded to teach me all about Cuba and the evils of Communism, refine my spoken Spanish, and how to appreciate coffee.  In fact, he swore that because my Spanish was without an accent that my family had to be Hispanic.  I assured him that he was incorrect… but, he wasn’t having any of it.

There’s much more to the story of Tomás that I may include in another blog entry but, the point today is that, despite the mainstream media coverage that Fidel Castro’s passing is, in some way, tragic… I can tell you, based on the accounts of those in Camp Delta and others who were in a position to know, first hand, that Fidel and Rául Castro, Ché Guevara, and Communism are all evil.  And any who would tell you otherwise are poorly informed fools and/or agenda driven liars.

There are few human stories more compelling or tragic than those that come directly from individuals who have lived under and survived under the repressive regimes of communism.  Ignoring the facts just to put together a feel-good news story or to attempt to canonize a tyrant, post mortem, is a despicable act that should be condemned and exposed for what it is.  An anti-human, miscarriage of history and a willful ignorance of real human oppression.  Those “reporters” and government officials singing Castro’s praises today should be ashamed of themselves and if they aren’t, they should be condemned to spending a few years under a brutal, inhuman, tyrannical regime… exercising their “freedom of press”.

But, today, ding-dong, the witch is dead.  So, pour yourself a nice cup of coffee, celebrate the death of a tyrant, and have a merry holiday season.

Nous Defions.

Star Wars and the Holidays

 

Happy Star Wars Day!… er… Christmas Kick-off Day!… uh… Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving almost seems like an afterthought this year.  Not sure why that’s true except that it’s not as infinitely marketable as Halloween or Christmas.  It’s not a big candy holiday, professional football seems to be less a draw this year than in any other year in recent memory, and evidently the retailers are freaking out because of a recent poll showing nearly 70% of the public has no desire to shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday.  But, for me, Thanksgiving isn’t about candy, football, or shopping.  It’s the gateway celebration leading to and culminating in Christmas and the New Year.  It’s about Star Wars, celebration, and food.

Star Wars originally screened on May 25, 1977.  As a seven year old boy, I stood in line for more hours than I care to count during that summer vacation.  I did it with my father, I did it with friends, I did it alone.  Just to watch the movie, mesmerized, one more time.  I must have watched that movie  a dozen times that summer.  And, I watched it countless more times during that original theater run.

The other movies, Empire, Jedi, and the Prequels were also originally screened in May of their respective release years.  Which, I suppose makes good marketing sense if what you’re after is a ready made, youth audience with lots of time on their hands.  But, how does that have anything to do with the holiday season?  Very simply… it’s the story.

Thanksgiving is the traditional, American beginning to the Christmas season… at least in my lifetime.  It’s been historically a time of slowing down, at the end of the year leading to Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, etc.  It’s a time of reflection, of giving thanks for the bounty of the previous couple of seasons, and preparing for the new year ahead.  As such, it is spiritual and renewing on any number of levels.  And it is the time of year that I enjoy Star Wars the most.

Star Wars is the story of birth, growth, corruption and decline, redemption, death, and rebirth.  It represents the cycle of nature. It is the story of life.  George Lucas’ vision and plot was made superbly rich by a comprehensive back story and layer upon layer of creative civilization and timeline.  The original Star Wars movie, A New Hope, was at release, a stand alone product and story.  Only after a few years of evolved exposure, did audiences realize how much more it was in Lucas’ mind.  A New Hope started in the middle of the story… as we all do as individuals.  It was a solid stand alone but, in comparison to the still unfolding entirety of the Star Wars universe, it was minuscule.  In fact, it is so big in concept… it is Biblical in scope.  And in message.

All great stories, be they oral tradition, written, or video, have these things in common.  Because they have these elements, and because the ideas are so central to being human, it is easy to relate to them and they become classics, enjoyed and retold over and over, generation to generation.  And, as humans, it is in our DNA to take the opportunity of the lull in the seasons to pause, with family and friends, around our version of the yule log, and retell and absorb tales that make us feel truly human.

At this point, Star Wars is so ingrained in our culture that there is a burgeoning “Fan Fiction” industry, as evidenced by the video attached above.  People connect to the story on such a level that they are inspired to contribute to the main story itself and do so with such a reverence for the original story that it is truly a value add and not a dilution of the original.  And, at this point, based on when the current “official” episodes in production are being released, it seems that even Disney Studios understands the relationship in season to story.

So, tonight, on this Thanksgiving, 2016, I will enjoy the feast of the season, in the company of those I love most, light the fireplace and enjoy one or more episodes of George Lucas’ version of the universal, human story.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Banpen Fugyô

I am a student of a very old, martial art of Japanese origin.  A fundamental tenet of my martial study is a concept expressed as ‘Banpen Fugyô’.  Roughly (and un-poetically) translated: Constant change, No amazement’.  The Japanese version of ‘the only constant is change’, sort of idea.

Approaching the world in this way could be perceived as being boring or stuck in the mud because you are actively working to mitigate wonderment.  However, this way of seeing the world does not force you to ignore the wondrous… it simply seeks to acknowledge that change is life/life is change and to not be derailed by it when it occurs.  A kind of ‘go with the flow’ approach to life.

I believe we are witnessing one of those once in a lifetime periods where the entire world is changing before our eyes.  A pivotal moment in time that will destroy old paradigms and establish a new foundation to build upon.

To be honest, we as a culture have been treated to so much change, so rapidly with the advent of the digital age that we are almost immune to recognizing change any longer because it seems to flow as a continuum.  For instance, the current generation iPhone (which was marketed as a technological wonder) will be rendered obsolete by the next generation iPhone in probably 6 months… and it will also be presented as revolutionary.  The only thing keeping the technological change from coming quicker, it seems, is the necessary time to market the next big thing.

But, this post isn’t specifically about iPhones, or Androids, or social media, or any of the other techie things that have become commonplace.  This post is about a revolution in human existence and how we see ourselves in the world.

This point can be illustrated by any number of examples.  Let’s start with the technology of communication:  Human beings began communicating via spoken language by face to face conversation.  This evolved into various written communications in the form of cave drawings, etched tablets, markings on papyrus, and finally the Gutenberg Press made mass publishing truly possible and distribute-able.  Then, with the advent of harnessing electricity, communication began to be possible via telegraph and then by telephone.  Radio and then Television revolutionized true mass communication and how we stayed abreast of current events, real time, and entertained ourselves.  Cable television created competition.  Resulting in more choices and a 24/7 news cycle.  No more waiting for the 5:30 national news to understand what was happening in the world.  Cellular phone technology came to fruition allowing us to communicate on the telephone virtually anywhere, any time. Then came the internet and e-mail.  Suddenly, there was no waiting for the written word… e-mail was delivered to any point on the globe instantly.  Then… Smartphones.  Everyone now carries a device that delivers telephone, text, personal computing, photography (still and video) and internet capabilities.  Various social media platforms were created and have nearly made e-mail irrelevant as a person to person communication and enable everyone with an account to broadcast their every thought and to share things of interest to everyone else on that platform instantly.  E-books enabled true self-publishing to become a thing… brick and mortar bookstores, libraries, and old line publishing houses are now irrelevant for the most part.  With the new internet based platforms of streaming entertainment, instant video and text publishing, Television, newspapers, magazines, and physical books are fast going the way of the dinosaur.  It truly is a brave new world but… the changes are now coming so quickly that we have become nearly numb to exactly how revolutionary each of these are and how far we have come as a race in terms of communication.  On the other hand, our larger social systems have moved more slowly than our technology.  However, that is changing as well.  At a breakneck pace.

The last, real revolution in governance was the American Revolution which resulted in the formation of the United States of America.  A true melding of Greek democratic and Roman republican principles and recognizing Natural Law, designed to decentralize government while protecting the rights of the minority… down to the smallest minority, the individual.

Following a long slow march of conglomerate thinking and now globalization of our sovereignty and economics, the world of society and government is changing.  Digital currencies are on the cusp of replacing monies controlled by governments.

The government of Spain has been all but non-existent for a year because the electorate could not decide between their two, bad legislative choices.  Guess what…?  Despite lots of doomsday commentary… nothing bad has happened to Spain.

Summer 2016 saw the ‘Brexit’ where the citizens of the UK chose to separate from the unelected econo-bureaucrats of the European Union.  Guess what…?  Despite lots of doomsday commentary, economic and otherwise… nothing bad has happened to the UK.  In fact, the British Pound has not been stronger in a decade and a half.

In November, 2016 the United States elected President Donald Trump who ran on a platform of reform, economic prosperity and a reclamation of US sovereignty.  Amidst lots of negative press and dire predictions, guess what…?  So far what we’ve seen, two weeks in, is a President-Elect approaching his new Administration as a business turnaround, the stock markets are at all time highs, and the US Dollar is at 15 year highs.  Additionally, the new President appears to be using all available technology to take his message directly to the public instead of allowing the press to filter his message.

Now, I believe we are on the verge of seeing France going the way of the UK and the US in terms of restoring their national sovereignty and withdrawing from the EU.  If Marine Le Pen wins their election next summer, I suspect they will also withdraw from the EU and will be followed out by the Iberian peninsula.  The Germans are also due for a national election… and Angela Merkel is beleaguered by a series of unpopular and detrimental immigration decisions.  I’m predicting that she will also fall to a more conservative, national sovereignty focused opponent… followed by a German rejection of the EU model… and once the Germans go, the Scandinavians will likely follow.

What is the point of the very lengthy diatribe above?  Simply this.  Change is present, constant, and inevitable.  Human beings long for independence and freedom to exercise our liberty.  That is what our history of technological advancement has been about.  It is now manifesting in our choices about governance.  The days of large blocks of governance and economic rule are going away.  We are voting them away because, we have developed the tools to render them obsolete.  We no longer have a need for them and they are hindering our ability to realize our individual liberties and responsibilities.  They must go… and they will.

Gone are the days of prohibitive national borders for the purposes of association.  Going soon will be the days of the Nation State.  We are all soon to be islands, connected by technology to other like-thinking islands, forming our own, self-defined, extra-national, beneficial relationships and alignments.  I don’t know exactly how that will look in the end… but, that’s where we’re going.

There are those who will resist this change.  That futile resistance is reflected in the riots and unrest surrounding the US election.  I understand.  Change causes friction, friction causes discomfort, and no one enjoys being uncomfortable.  But, understand that change is coming whether you want it or you don’t.  It’s a giant wave, and it has quantum amounts of momentum.  Surf’s up.  Nothing to do but to ride the wave in front of us or to be crushed under it’s force.

Banpen Fugyô!