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Day by Day



26 February 2007

Spam, Phish, and others...


Good morning! It's Monday. While Scoot is locked in mortal combat with the forces of ignorance, I get a chance to catch up on all my fan mail.


Wait a a minute, I don't know anyone in Nigeria. Yes, dear reader(s) it is time for the annual diatribe on spam and other internet abuses. Let's begin by reviewing the top few spam e-mails, sexual aids aside.


1) Hello, I am Kwanodallala Mugabartilsg from Lagos, Nigeria. I have $20 million (did I say $20 million, I meant $40 million) in a numbered account. No wait, don't delete me, it's legitimate I sw**


2) Congratulations! You have won the Lithuanian lottery, presently valued at 100 million euros, that's 5 billion in US dolla**


3) Timmy was born without a head, his fondest wish is to annoy the crap out of every living thing on the planet. Won't you send this message alon**


4) I swear this is true! A professor at a University in a large western state sent this out. Taking large doses of mercury and rubbing them gently on yo**


And now my newest, and most recent,


5) My name is SGT David Ess, serving with the Third Infantry in Iraq...


Ah yes, the desperate plea of our soldiers in Iraq, strangely sent out from Yahoo Japan. I am sure the SGT needs enough money to buy an Iraqi lottery ticket in order to purchase more mercury for the little headless boy he and his platoon have adopted...



The net has proven the depth and height of humanity. I think I have learned that there are folks who would gladly pick our pockets as pick us up when we fall. Once again it is the understated and overlooked who tend to do the most good.


On another note...


Scoot, I am with you. I look forward to the return of your intellect to the ethereal world.


23 February 2007

Never Give Up...


It seems that a set of septegenarians in Costa Rica were accosted by a trio of thugs, The group attempted to rob the tourists and found, despite their youth and possession of weapons, that the Americans were not too happy to be robbed.

In fact, after the seniors decided to resist, two criminals fled while the one who was armed was engaged in a struggle with the travellers. Regrettably, the assailant died.

Wait a minute, did I say regrettably? I did. It is regrettable when anyone loses their life. In this instance I place the blame squarely on the perpetrator. His actions required a response from the vicitms, I simply do not think it was the response he expected.

I think things have changed a lot since September 11, 2001. There is no tolerance for the bullying of innocents.

21 February 2007

Conflict...

McArthur said;

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

It is with this quote that I begin today's philosophical post. There are a lot of folks out there who profess and proclaim the evils of war (and they do exist). They demand that under no circumstances should we engage in conflict.


There is some merit to this belief. And yet it comes from a position of unbridled strength. The United States has enjoyed, for many years since the end of World War II and near unparalleled military, economic and social supremacy over the remainder of the world. In the scale of global history, this is a very short time period.



Other nation states and empires enjoyed similar influence for far longer and with greater force. Rome, the Greeks, the Birtish Empire and even some of the Asian and American cultures exerted significant influence over a relatively sizable persentage of the population.


What is different is the level of premeability of our influence. We can reach any corner of the globe with our media, our culture and influence. This provides a VERY short half-life for many of these influences (thank heaven polyester never survived!). It also marks us as the culture to challenge, if only because we represent the image of a global hegemony.


And so it is with conflict. The media is hyping our possible clash with Iran, our obligation in Darfur, our error in Iraq, our lack of commitment in Afghanistan, our vulnerability in Korea, our disinterst in the Balkans and any number of pro or con discussions about the use of military might. Sort of a damned if we do or damned if we don't world, huh? The world wants us and yet they hate us. They covet our social structure and condemn all that it delivers.


So which is it? Do we exert influence in all its measures (the infamous DIME acronym) or not? Unlike every other nation, we can put forth our values across a broad spectrum. As the Oscars come up in the next few days, we will export our film culture to the world. Despite the crass materialism and self-flagellation of this event, it eclipses Cannes and any other recognition of film.


Frankly, I serve in the hopes that one day my sons will not have to. It's really that simple. I would much rather we were spending money on space exploration and colonization, new technology and moving towards the Star Trek universe. But we're a LONG way from that.


Does there need to be an Apocalypse before we can realize our potential as a species? Or is the role of our nation one of shepherd, to help guide the planet through a very tough period into one of stability and tolerance?


War is not always the answer, however, I think it depends on the question.



19 February 2007

Wierd...

Okay, I was checking the blog for aesthetic purity when I noticed this in the corner;


Except it wasn't the picture shown, it was some raven haired tyke in a crib with a sippy cup. In fact, the image keeps changing!

What next?

So here is the query, has blogger been hacked? Or should I say, when has blogger not been hacked?

I'm pretty sure this is another Al Queda attack on the infrastructure of free speech. Either that or it's a test run from Hillary's anti-blogging squad to insure no unfavorable news on her policies leaks out to the helpless electorate.

UPDATE: Scoot reports that the HTML images from his Super Hero survey were removed! Perhaps Obama and his ultra-hip, tech squad are launching a counter attack!

14 February 2007

BBC...

I am travelling. When I travel I like to watch BBC World Service. It's much better than CNN international and you can't get Fox outside the USA. I watched Hardtalk in which the US ambassador for our HIV initiative, Mark Dybul, was being accosted by a smug, supercilious BBC interviewer about the moral underpinnings of policy. In addition to posing anecdotal and erroneous statements to Mark, the BBC displayed a horrible bias in their reprot. Some key facts.

1 - The USA contributes the largest amount to HIV eradication than the rest of the world combined.
2 - The USA policy is science based with a three tiered approach in the developing world (Abstinence, Behavior, Condoms)
3 - HIV is on the uptick due to educational gaps across the world, including some poorly chosen statements from some ;frican leaders and underreporting in Asia.
4 - The impact of the sex trade is a major contributor to viral propogation.

In my opinion the BBC did a disservice to the anti-HIV effort. Dybul did a great job answering questions.

05 February 2007

Zen and the Art of War...



If you haven't yet, please check out this hilarious set of vignettes about Mr. Deity on YouTube. I am unaware of the origin but it's well crafted and executed. YouTube has become the new media of choice for the wireless generation, or as I like to call them - the impatient ones. I suspect that Citizen Primus and Secundus will quickly assimilate knowledge and wisdom at a rate that makes drinking from a firehose look simple by comparison.

Where does that leave the parents? We are desperately trying to keep up with changes in our society as it affects our children. Thas has been the challenge since the advent of the 20th century. When I was growing up it was easy, the Soviets were the bad guys, we would soon be living on the moon and professional atheletes were some of the most respected role models around.

Now we have an amalgam of "bad guys", some of whom are our own citizens, entertainers are defining socially acceptable behavior and we'll likely be able to custom order replacement organs within the next two decades. What's a parent to do? How do you convey your morals and beliefs to children when they very well may be wrong?

Some time ago children grew up in an age in which racism and religious intolerance were the norm. In some parts of the world, this is still true - google Islamic Madrassa. But as time changed and more information and awareness spread, the changes in belief evolved.

What we face in our world today is nothing short of miraculous. We have achieved levels of wealth and prosperity unheard of in our history. We have access to information beyond the dreams of the greatest librarians to have existed. Our science is reaching into realms in whihc the average layman has no hope of comprehending.

And here is the problem. Arthur C. Clarke once stated that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable form magic". This presents a real challenge for our world. Will we, as science races away from the realm of understanding of humaity attain a priesthood like quality? Most people today have only a rudimentary understanding of how things work or the fundamental laws behind our universe and engineering. We have become a planet in which we no longer care how our world operates only that it does.

And thus my personal dilemma. I admire pure spiritualism. This is, in my opinion, defined by a true humility of intellect. It represents a frame of mind that there is much to learn and we are far from knowing everything we can know about our existence. I have a firm belief in a higher moral precept. We should strive to look after our fellow humans and seek to better our planet for all. However, our actions should not suffer injustice and threats to the innocent.

Call it a warrior spirituality. Bill Roggio had a great post on his site about the nature of our changing society. There are spiritual luddites out there who seek to retain their influence of thought and doctrine through fear and intimidation. They include many sects and groups - including some you may not originally consider.

Rather than dive into a diatribe of who I think they are, I choose to offer my vote for the first law of techno-spirituality.

In all your actions, seek to affirm life and the means to sustain and improve it

This is a ripoff of the Hyppocratic Oath, Ten Commandments and the first tenet of Zen Buddhism. We are bombarded by so many messages, how we help our children to understand what is right and wrong becomes an increasingly tough challenge.




01 February 2007

Destiny...


There are a LOT of people promoting horoscopes on the planet. If you read the any two horoscopes on a given day for yourself, you will get two very different persepctives. There is one site which I particularly like. It is Rob Brezsny's Freewill Astrology. He is definitely in the "woo woo" category. And yet he has such a vibrant way of writing and laying out his optimistic view of the world that it is almost impossible not to read and enjoy.

He also published a book entitled Pronoia. It is an equally joyful tome full of whimsical thoughts and some not too shabby philosophy. I am not a wooist (woo-ee, wooer?), but I appreciate an exuberant spirit. Part of the attraction of his work is a Zen like approach to the universe.
I get this in an infrequent message from Citizen Une. She is presently on a quest for enahnced personal and spiritual knowledge and has been peering into the deeper and sometimes darker corners of our respective souls. On many occassions I credit her with more courage than anyone I know. I am posting this in partial answer to a comment from Scoot. He posed a thought regarding The List.
I think we steer our own destiny to a great degree, however, the interference of chaos is a force for which there is little to no remedy. Like a cosmic surfer, we can search for the wave, ride the wave, but its strength and arrival are out of our hands.
Just like physicist's quest for a unified theory, I think philosophers and thinkers are also looking for a unified field for human thought and existence. I think I would put my money on the physicists first, but the quest is certainly more lively in the latter group!