HUMINT: American Empiricist
Imperialism: any instance of aggressive extension of authority.
Empiricism: an iterative approach that argues for study of events through observation and the formulation of new policy based on lessons learned.
How long should the American People wait before they start taking foreign policy matters into their own hands? Indeed they already have! There is a domestic backlash against an absurd narrative that claims “the United States is an empire”. The United States is definitely not an empire, but few Americans are willing to state the obvious. Even fewer are willing to aggressively tell the truth. American wars are anti-empire. American wars are for liberation, not occupation. That’s why Americans are pro-victory. American wars have always been about liberation and I believe American wars always will be about liberation. Because of a leadership vacuum on this issue, Americans are once again solving their political problems themselves. Now, we are witnessing the rise of ideological entrepreneurs inside and outside America who aren’t willing to wait for their elected officials to wake up. Like Paul Revere, they are raising the Alarm, here, here and here ... Indeed, there is a natural awakening happening across America that can be felt --- in our libraries and in our classrooms --- temples, synagogues, churches and mosques --- inside coffee shops, book stores and restaurants --- wherever people meet. Indeed, elected American officials have been unwilling or unable to acknowledge the awakening for what it represents. I have a feeling that that’s about to change. It doesn’t take a genius to realize democratic change always lags behind the spirit of the electorate. In a way, that’s the beauty of democracy --- slow, steady, and stable! Democracy in practice, like survival in the wild, is a constant exercise in expression and representation. But how did we get here?
A free mind in the wild reacts appropriately to dangerous changes in its environment. That’s how early humans survived the trials and tribulations of the wild. It wasn’t through cooperative collectivism --- it was through the mass adoption of best practices discovered by free thought! Hunters and gatherers first… then farmers… After farmers came engineers. Now lawyers and businessmen serve the community as leaders. Each phase overlaps, but the trend is undeniable. We are talking about positive momentum. All good leaders operate by reviewing recent history and adopting best practices. Each societal transition occurred because observant empiricists crossed cultural boundaries to express solutions to problems they felt. Each transition was sparked by carefully recognizing the genius of the system that came before it, without the shackles of embellished nostalgia or arbitrary demonization. Interestingly, each phase still exists in America in one form or another today. Americans still hunt, gather, farm, engineer, litigate and trade. American democracy facilitates communication across each phase to stabilize and prepare for whatever is coming next… If you have sensed it too, ask yourself, what’s the common denominator? The voices of each phase can be heard (in one form or another) calling for American leadership to represent empiricism, and reject baseless accusations of American imperialism.
To prove the point, let’s go back to the beginning… Free thought was thrust upon mankind as a primary defense against premature death. Not strength. Strength is a symptom of adopting ideas that work. Human beings are fragile and physically impudent creatures in the wild. We still are at birth. This is where the phrase, “created equal” comes from. At birth we are all equally impudent and dependant upon others for our survival. Equality does not extend into adulthood. This is the natural difference between “equality” and “equal opportunity” in society. Only those who leverage opportunity will succeed. This is not an imperialist concept; it is an empirically derived concept.
Make no mistake, extreme freedom of thought is the arena mankind dominated all of our natural competitors. Freedom of thought remains as the source of all human power. The size of bombs, the speed of jets, and the agility of tanks are all symptoms of free thought harnessed against violent and aggressive competitors. Much has changed since the beginning of history. I can understand why many people are confused about the nature of American Empiricism, but I cannot condone it. Too many people in the world live in the “here and now” mindset. They are blind to history’s lessons. It is difficult to tell if they are malicious in their rhetoric or are simply blinded to reality by illusions. By abstracting reality with language, many human beings are stupefied by their own lack of (near) threats. Many of us have never faced death eye to eye. In the abstract world of our own making, we are the only threat that remains capable of destroying ourselves. Why would we do that? Presumably, we would consider destroying ourselves because we don’t know who we are, or who our enemy is. The warning signs of impending confrontation must feel surreal to someone without historical context. Those who believe the U.S. is an empire write as if all human beings were not engineered to kill, capable of killing or capable of dieing for their abstract beliefs. They defend the war rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad by admonishing American President George Bush for rhetorically answering it.
HUMINT: What is the difference between imperialism and empiricism? What is the difference between wild society and civil society? What is the difference between freedom of expression and oppression of expression? I believe free citizens are afforded their illusions in a free society with an expectation that free thought, exercised in the free-market of ideas, will conjure a more accurate representation of threats. In doing so, free minds will simultaneously conjure apt solutions to existing problems. Virtually the same logic applies to free market economics. Civilized elected officials in a democracy are expected to pursue best practices derived from empirical evidence, just as the markets respond naturally to supply and demand. What then should we say about the electorate’s demand for empiricist leadership? Elected officials may only feel their electorate’s presence during elections, but empiricists live among the electorate. They have always been there; observing, planning and making suggestions. In all honesty, elected officials may or may not have the intellect or audacity to represent American Empiricists, unless they are already empiricists themselves. Under the circumstances, American leadership is about to experience a wave of American Empiricism if they aren’t already.
I confess to being an Empiricist; however, I am not just an American Empiricist, I'm an aggressive American Empiricist! As an aggressive empiricist, I despise imperialists. I love confrontation and seek it. The best confrontations I have had are with people who assert the United States is an empire. Little effort is required to dispel the lie. The fact is, authority in America is earned by applying successful policy. It is taken away when an advocate’s policies fail. All policy in America is subject to criticism and review by anyone and everyone, even foreign nationals. Criticism alone however does not prove a policy is failure. Only empiricism can derive legitimate answers to constructive criticism. American progress around the world is not the product of American Imperialism; it is the product of American Empiricism! Know the difference! Spread the word!
HUMINT: Internet Savant
HUMINT: What would ancient philosophers think if they had access to the internet? Imagine Aristotle surfing the web… what would he Google? Thinking about philosophers and the Internet creates an opportunity to explore the philosophical origins of the Internet. Interestingly, the imagery of ancient philosophers surfing the WWW is particularly helpful. It will help us forecast the emergence of a group of hyper-aware individual internet users we should expect to enter adulthood in the next decade or so. Internet Savants, if I may coin a phrase, will eventually emerge as the intellectual progeny of Aristotle, Plato, Archimedes, Locke and Hume among others... But how do we know Internet Savants are on the way? We’ll have to travel through time and space to develop a plausible forecast…
The storm of Internet Savants I’m forecasting began forming in the 17th Century. It has been developing for centuries, if not longer. The British empiricists John Locke and later David Hume articulated the role of mankind on earth as that of a witness. In their philosophy, we (humankind) are observers of nature, which we are ourselves a part. The Internet is a product of humankind, a kind of child that could not have been conceived without prudent observation… It is their ideas that suggested we embrace our sensorial experiences in concert with our spiritual senses. Not surprisingly, David Hume was an historian before he turned to philosophy. Both men boldly allowed themselves to deconstruct the world they observed. They did so with the intent of formulating the most accurate and honest philosophy they could imagine. Hume was inspired by Locke, and I am humbly inspired by both.
Thomas Jefferson, in cooperation with Benjamin Franklin composed the Declaration of Independence, which was ratified by the Continental Congress Jully 4th 1776. The Declaration of Independence was inspired in large part by the philosophy of John Locke. The Second Treatise of Government, written by John Locke but submitted for public consideration anonymously in 1690, remains an extremely influential essay. It influenced the political philosophy of Americans to such a degree that its meaning is embedded in the American psyche. Locke’s pivotal piece provided a basis for more American doctrines, such as those set forth in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. It is from this initial observation that we might assert a theory about the mechanics of humankind.
Applied philosophy is identity.
In other words, every society applies some form of philosophy to function, and through its operation, the identity of a populace is revealed. To validate the theory by observation; the most accurate philosophy, if applied judiciously, would reveal a successful identity – probably the most successful identity. Would it not? Now, let’s flip the timeline of history and work backward. Consider successful societies in existence today and consider the philosophical origins upon which they are built. While there are many examples, the most familiar to Americans, is their own nation state. The technological and spiritual success of American society is unprecedented in the history of mankind.
Freedom of thought is a prerequisite to deriving solutions to complex problems, be they of mortal origin or natural origin. In the United States, honesty and fidelity are rewarded with technological progress, economic stability and sustainable growth. This is what Americans believe. Iterations of 1] innovation and 2] reward established a static identity and a dynamic national trajectory. This is how “We the People” (A quote from the U.S. Constitution) in many cases invented, manufactured, developed and adopted such technology as the transcontinental railroad, the automobile, the light bulb, the airplane and the personal computer. Americans are witness (recall “witness” as a reference to Locke’s and Hume’s empiricism) to the world in the most unfettered circumstance enjoyed by any group of people in the world today.
What trajectory does rewarding innovation establish? Think about the common denominator of almost every successful innovation in the United States! Each invention has made Americans a more capable witness of the world around us. The American identity is prepared to adopt new technology that makes us more aware precisely because Americans apply the philosophy of John Locke. The internet is simply the culmination of these successive adoptions. Indeed it is the adoption of an invention that makes it valuable. If an invention is never adopted, its value remains trapped in the mind of the inventor. Which brings us back to the forecast for which this essay is entitled; Internet Savants, having developed the skills to “witness” the world in a way that no human being could have witnessed the world before will begin revealing new truths about the world we live in.
Internet Savants – having been born after the invention and adoption of the Internet will seldom disconnect from their source data. Internet Savants will be able to absorb information from the internet as if their interface were a sense organ, not unlike their eyes or ears. The Internet Savant will relate to other Internet Savants in the context of their shared hyper-awareness. These individuals will not be deterred by government censorship because they will be able to understand what is being censored by observing and comprehending all of the other data at their disposal. By virtue of the propagation of the technology, these individuals needn’t be American at all but hail from every corner of the globe. The mosaic the Internet Savant builds in his or her mind will fill in the perceptual gaps of censorship just as the occipital lobe fills in the visual gap created by the optic nerve. Once they’ve achieved hyper-awareness, they will use their ability to continue what Locke started. Why? Because Internet Savants will be the most empowered witnesses the world has ever seen. They will know their identity. They will know their philosophical origins…
HUMINT: Mendeleev Sleep
MENDELEEV SLEEP: The development of the periodic table of the elements was a leap forward in the chemical sciences. Although not responsible for discovering the elements he knew existed, Mendeleev organized the information available to him like no one else before him. It was his organizational skills that revealed something critically important to the advancement of mankind. What he discovered was new! Mendeleev noticed patterns in the properties and atomic weights of halogens, alkali metals and alkaline metals. According to the legend, Mendeleev had written what he knew about existing elements on the equivalent of flash cards and organized, reorganized and reorganized them on his bedroom floor. Mendeleev had an unknown number of iterative organizing sessions interspersed with sleep cycles. Mendeleev let his brain do what brains do naturally by living with it. By absorbing the information and allowing his hardware to “crunch” the data, he could see the world in a new way. In order to complete the pattern he observed, Mendeleev predicted several new elements. Interestingly, months after Mendeleev published his periodic table of all known elements another one, virtually identical to Mendeleev’s was published. Mendeleev was born 1834. He was not a stellar student and was rejected by major universities. He died in 1907 in St. Petersburg, Russia from influenza.
ARTIFICIAL INTUITION: What is the Mendeleev story telling us about intuition? Do we know how a genius’ mind works? I think researchers do, but society doesn’t spend much time talking about how genius works. To be sure, we are always more interested in the discovered than the discoverer. What if we only considered how geniuses discover without considering what they discover? What if we (the observers of genius) were to dedicate every bit of our energy to how geniuses discover and nothing to their discovery? We would be talking about the mental mechanics of genius and how we might apply them to solve new problems. If average mortals could successfully emulate innovators, computer programmers probably wouldn’t be far behind them in terms of simulating the intuition process. In other words, computers could be programmed to innovate if and when a computer programmer (or someone a computer programmer knows) has a comprehensive familiarity with the process of intuition. Indeed we don’t spend much time talking about how our minds work, much less how the minds’ of geniuses work. We do know intuition is statistically predictable and therefore cannot be random phenomena. The problem with our current understanding of intuition is that as an individual experience it is not repeatable phenomena.
MOORE-HEISENBERG UNCERTAINTY: Once an individual discovers something new, it can’t be undiscovered. Intuition is not directly repeatable and therefore is not directly observable. In a population of people, intuition is occurring at a measurable rate for any given technology. For things like silicon semiconductor computer chip technology, intuition is accurately describable by Moore’s Law. “Almost every measure of the capabilities of digital electronic devices is linked to Moore's Law: processing speed, memory capacity, even the resolution of LCD screens and digital cameras.” Moore Law cannot select which individuals or companies in any industrial ecosystem will innovate. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal in “quantum physics states that the outcome of even an ideal measurement of a system is not deterministic, but instead is characterized by a probability distribution, and the larger the associated standard deviation is, the more "uncertain" we might say that that characteristic is for the system.”
BOILING DATA SOUP: Within an individual mind, a fundamental mixture of data must be present for a discovery to occur. Prescient awareness is about seeing patterns in the information as it’s processed. But how does information simmer in the mind? The living brain experiences waves of electro chemical activity named Beta, Theta, Alfa and Delta (Sleeping) waves. Theta waves are associated to expressions of intuition. Epiphanies might come during theta cycles but theta waves are not necessarily the creative phase of cognition. In any case, we are talking about output during particular brain waves. What if we were to look at how geniuses solve problems, in terms of seeing the data they have to see to solve the problem they are working on while experiencing all of their neurological phases? I bet we would see that they are fully invested in solving a problem. In other words, geniuses may work on problems they are obsessed with during their Beta, Theta, Alfa and Delta phases.
HUMINT: Inspiring an intuitive response requires emersion in the variables necessary to reveal previously undiscovered patterns. Before a discovery, it is impossible to tell how many variables are needed to illicit an intuitive response. Someone trained to detect patterns may need less information than individuals with no training at all. Inversely, a pattern that someone who is trained to recognize patterns expects to see in their data may not exist at all. Indeed, the human mind is notorious for chasing dangerous illusions. What is important to note is that the process of discovery occurs naturally, most likely across all neurological states, including Beta, Theta, Alfa and Delta phases. Find the passion for your problem that Mendeleev had for chemical elements and go to sleep with them! One day, you’ll know the answer, or at least the pattern pointing to it.
HUMINT: Interpretive Theology
For a society to guard against malicious ideological threats, it must at least recognize and respect the fact that some citizens will invariably believe in the power of God as a cohesive force separate from the power of the state. This is particularly true for any government run by militant atheists or militant theocrats. But why would any society believe they need to protect themselves from malicious ideas? To be sure, I’m not talking about recruiting a division of thought police to guard against threats to social morality. Free societies recognize freedom of religion as sacrosanct --- either consciously or by accident. Militant atheists or militant theocrats put themselves in a position to defend the state with “brown shirts” or “morality police” respectively.
The point of this essay is to demonstrate how some societies ensure they are never attacked or abused by thought police. Almighty God has a power influence in the lives of many healthy and happy people. Only arrogant thought police would seek to strip them of their beliefs. For example; early Jews under the Egyptian Pharos and Christians under early Roman Emperors were members of world changing movements. Both were accelerated by brutal oppression. Indeed, it appears to matter greatly if an earthly authority suppresses spiritual expression. Indeed, suppressing an individual’s relationship with their God strengthens spiritual relationships. It does so most likely because earthly oppression of the divine only validates the perception of illegitimacy of the earthly authority.
The Buddhists of Myanmar, the Yazidi of Northern Iraq, the Bahai’ of Iran and the Falun Gong of China are modern examples of cohesive spiritual interpretations persecuted for their political beliefs derived in part for their spiritual explorations. Although not the case with the Falun Gong or the Bahai, in some cases, state sponsored oppressions of religious expression has empowered the sense of righteousness and militarization of the oppressed.
The U.S. Declaration of independence handles the argument with unparalleled spiritual and political precision. “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Within the first two sentences of the American definition, Americans’ political decisions are legitimized by the Laws of Nature and the inalienable rights endowed by their “creator”. But these two indisputable authorities are not given an anthropomorphic consciousness to govern. The United States is not a theocracy or governed by the laws of nature. Instead, government is the responsibility of fallible human beings. The responsibility to govern belongs to the intellect of the people, yet the authority for people to govern themselves is endowed by God.
This is an important point that all militant atheists and militant theocrats should learn: Americans are not successful because we are an arrogant society. Americans are successful because we modestly accept our fallibility and compensate for it with tolerance for ourselves and others. Our admission of fallibility is manifest in the separation of powers, checks and balances, regular elections and basic human freedoms such as freedom of [speech, religion, press, assembly]. The accusations heaped upon the United States by despotic regimes are almost always an unwitting self referential statement about the accuser, not the policies of the United States. Militant atheists and militant theocrats are irredeemably arrogant. They both formulate governments that legislate as if their great leaders hold a monopoly on genius. It is their arrogance that guarantees their failures (or limited success) will repeat ad infinitum.
While there are many official government interpretations of almighty God; from pure disbelief in the existence of God, to God as the source of legitimacy for the authority of consensual government, to unadulterated submission to God’s will; only one interpretation affords sustainable peace. The official American interpretation of God is the most durable interpretation applied to a society. The fact that it is the most durable implies that it is also the most accurate and honest, either with respect to humankind’s perception of God or God. Either way, the American interpretation is subtle. It is so subtle in fact that it often goes unnoticed. Its low profile belies its importance. Without it Americans would not sustain domestic tranquility as we do. The Founding Fathers of the United States took strides to make room for spiritual interpretations other than Christianity in American society. They also took strides to ensure the definition of American governance closed the door to interpretations of God that coerces Americans spiritual submission or attacked their benign spiritual beliefs or traditions.
The spread of the American interpretation of God is not any more hegemonic than the spread of successful behavior. The official American interpretation of God is not being adopted around the world because Americans are hegemonic or because the United States is a new kind of global empire. The opposite is true. The act of spreading the American interpretation of God in government is a somber request for humility. It is no accident that such a request primarily targets arrogant groups of militant atheists and militant theocrats.
HUMINT: Americans’ War on Terror is not a crusade! It’s an appeal to justice and reason. If forsaken, arrogant liars will be devastated. Do you suppose that reality follows one of: A) Nature’s Laws, B) one of God’s Laws, C) both or D) neither?
HUMINT: Free Fuel
ENERGY IS INHERENTLY VALUABLE: There will never be such a thing as free fuel, however, energy is now and will forever be the most important commodity in human society. Energy is valuable because it can be converted into virtually every other commodity. With enough cheap energy, civil engineers could create land – so there would be no need for feudal systems of land owning lords or renting serfs as was witnessed in history when people and energy were synonymous. Automation and mechanization has liberated mankind from most of the backbreaking labor of our ancestors, yet machines and automation still require energy to operate.
COSTS OF COMMODITIES: What about other commodities such as gold, platinum or silver? Recycling for example, is cost prohibitive because of the amount of energy recycling requires. If fuel were free, or nearly free, the price of recycling would presumably drop below the price of mining for more gold, platinum or silver. For a while at least, the price of all consumables would drop, and or the amount of profit made by businesses would skyrocket.
PENNIES PER GALLON: An economic and environmental analysis probably should be used to show the direct impact on the planet if a gallon of gasoline were to cost consumer’s pennies instead of dollars. Thinking about free fuel is fun. Free fuel is a feel good idea, even if it isn’t going to happen tomorrow, even if it’s not going to happen in the next century
REVERSING ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE: Free fuel implies more than just “no financial costs”; free fuel also implies “no environmental costs”. If energy were free, it might become feasible to deploy machines/filters capable of reversing most if not all environmental damage created by using the fuel in the first place. If fuel were free, it would be feasible to purify salt water and pump the resultant fresh water wherever it’s needed. These are just a few obvious opportunities that would be revealed if fuel were free.
CASTRATE RESOURCE OPPRESSORS: An immediate benefit of cheap synthetic fuel would be stripping the Islamic Republic of Iran of billions of dollars in revenue it receives for its oil exports. Iran’s President, Mahmood Ahmadinejad is a radical religious fanatic who enjoys threatening the United States and our allies around the world. He uses the money his nation makes from exporting unrefined oil to denigrate and attack the United States. Fossil fuels are extremely valuable but it is not an earned value. The fact that Iran doesn’t earn its wealth is probably why it feels justified in hating the people and nations that pay them for their oil.
WORSHIP THE SUN: In terms of the fuel we use today, it is extremely inefficient. It took millions of years to produce, it takes millions of dollars to extract, it costs U.S. consumers billions of dollars use, and it costs the environment an undetermined amount in atmospheric damage. It is important to realize that most of the energy consumed in the world today is a manifestation of solar energy. Coal, natural gas, oil are all fossil fuels that stores energy chemically. The source energy of the fuel you use in your car and probably your home as well originated as nuclear energy inside the sun. As you are aware every day, that energy travelled to the earth in the form of radiation (sunlight). Geothermal and nuclear energy are the only exceptions. Nuclear energy, as we all know, has serious drawbacks in terms of safety and weapons proliferation. Therefore we should collectively look to the sun for energy salvation, if there is such a thing.
MIRRORS AND MICROBES: One approach to efficiently harvest energy directly from the sun could be some configuration of mirrors concentrating solar energy to force feed genetically engineered microbes capable of converting the energy into usable fuel. Theoretically, genetically engineered microbes could produce usable fuel at a pace consistent with our current lifestyles and growing energy demands. Where would we do it? Vast areas of international waters could be used as oceanic fields to produce the fuel. All of this brain storming is wildly speculative but there are reasons to be optimistic about genetically engineered microbes. Genetically engineered microbes are already producing valuable commodities such as insulin for diabetics.
FOR EXAMPLE: Dr Stephen Curry, a structural biologist from Imperial College London's Division of Cell and Molecular Biology who participated in the research explains: "This work has shown that it is possible to manipulate molecules and proteins that occur naturally in the human body by changing one small detail of their make-up, such as the type of metal at the heart of a porphyrin molecule, as we did in this study. --- "It's very exciting to prove that we can use these biological structures as a conduit to harness solar energy to separate water out into hydrogen and oxygen. In the long term, these synthetic molecules may provide a more environmentally friendly way of producing hydrogen, which can be used as a 'green' fuel."
HUMINT: While fuel will never be free, the future sources of fuel will not remain what they are. Woe to energy exporting nations who are leveraging their natural resources against free people who represent their customers. What seems clear is that resource rich oppressors are extremely ambitions despite the fact that they didn’t earn their petro-wealth. Their day of reckoning is near…
Many years ago on a long back country hike I was following a winding trail that loosely traced the path of an old creek. Every mile or so, the path would cross the creek and I’d get another chance to wade through the cool mountain water. I’d been hiking that trail since sunrise and had crossed the creek at least thirty times. It was getting late in the day and some angry looking clouds were rolling toward me overhead. I could hear cracks of thunder in the distance. It wasn’t easy to see the sky through the thick canopy of trees but I could tell rain was coming. The woods seemed quite. Only a few hundred yards ahead I knew the trees were going to open up to a little field about an acre or so big. The small field was gorgeous. It hugged the banks of a large lake.
My plan was to beat the rain to the field and set up my tent, open my book and read while listening to rain falling 10,000 ft onto my ripstop roof. I planned to build a campfire after the rain stopped and cook my dinner. All that hiking had made me very hungry before I arrived. I clearly remember hoping for a short squall. I may have even prayed for it, but if I did, I don’t remember what I said to God. Anyway, in situations like those, God always seems to have more important things to worry about than selfish requests driven by a hiker’s empty stomach.
When I got to the small field, the tent went up smoothly. I gathered up some wood for my dinner fire and tossed the logs under a small tarp I was carrying with me. If I couldn’t keep the logs dry during the storm I knew it would be hard to get my dinner fire started later that evening. As I was collecting wood, big rain drops started hitting the landscape like artillery fired at my LZ by some distant army. Where ever they hit, the surface turned from dry to dark wet. Fortunately, I finished in time. When I crawled into my tent the drops were hitting about a foot apart. My cloths and gear hadn’t been hit hard enough to be wet. About fifteen minutes later, after getting situated inside the tent, the rain outside started coming down hard. The sound of it hitting the roof of my tent was deafening. It was time to kick off my boots, read and wait out the squal. I pulled Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance out of my pack… Pulp seventies philosophy had captured my attention in the book store earlier in the week because I thought it actually had something to do with motorcycle maintenance…
It really didn’t but I found the book interesting enough to keep reading without the technical motorcycle jargon I was looking for. The big ZEN idea of the page I was reading was about a “country church building with an electric beer sign hanging right over the front entrance. The building had been sold and was being used as a bar.” … “a number of people had complained to the church officials about it. It had been a Catholic Church, and the priest who had been delegated to respond to the criticism had sounded quite irritated about the whole thing. To him it had revealed an incredible ignorance of what a church really was. Did they think that bricks and boards and glass constituted a church? Or the shape of the roof? Here, posing as piety was an example of the very materialism the church opposed. The building in question was not holy ground. It had been desanctified. That was the end of it. The beer sign resided over a bar, not a church, and those who couldn’t tell the difference were simply revealing something about themselves.”
The book continued pontificating about academia and its purpose as an institution of learning as opposed to its material manifestation. It was interesting but I remember drifting away from the authors narrative and creating my own of a similar vein. Listening to the rain outside I started to disagree with the author and contemplate the deeper meaning behind tangible buildings that serve customers like restaurants and bars. The Catholic Church may be spiritually superior to the bar, and maybe that’s what the Catholic parishioners were missing when it officially transformed into a bar. However, their needs are independent of their neighbors’ needs that prefer a bar to be where the church once was. At that moment a common denominator was revealed to me. The relationship between the bartender and the priest in this context is customer service.
In the back country mountains, in a small field, under the rain, on the shores of a beautiful lake with an empty belly; I couldn’t help but think about the importance of customer service and the role it plays in society. Indeed, democracy is all about customer service. Can you have a democracy without a society that respects good customer service? I doubt it! Out there in the wilderness, I was on my own, serving myself. I had no expectation of help from anyone else. My only concerns were about large animals that might take my food or break my gear or try to make a dinner out of me. Facing nature with what you can carry on your back develops a new perspective, especially after an all day hike. In a community of citizens that make a democracy work however there is an expectation of, if not appreciation for, customer service. In every civilized society there exists an ecosystem of services, the best of which succeeds over eventually eliminates poorer services fulfilling the same need. In an environment where there were no stores for miles I was thinking about free market economics and their influence on democracy.
Restaurants are, in a sense, pews in the church of democracy (I was thinking to myself as the rain continued to fall and my stomach began to growl). Restaurants demonstrate the interdependencies of citizens whereby the best customer service attracts more customers. Employees of a restaurant are campaigning to keep their customers and customers vote with their wallet and presence every time they choose one restaurant over another. Based on the sheer volume of raw “democratic” interaction occurring, a successful restaurant may be more representative of American culture and society than any other American institution.
Is it any wonder that there are more Chinese restaurants in the United States than there are in China? That implies (by this back country social scientist metric) Chinese society is capable of being more “democratic” than the government of China is currently allowing its people to be. Is it any wonder why McDonalds (for example) has served more than one trillion meals? That’s over one trillion (meal) votes for McDonalds! McDonalds is doing an incredible job servicing its customers and is rewarded with returning customer. Why? Set aside the employee uniforms and the Golden Arches. Set aside all of the branding and look at what McDonalds means --- and to how many people it means it to. McDonalds, on the subject of food, may be the most democratically appreciated restaurant in the history of mankind.
The rain outside my tent finally stopped falling. I left the tent to prepare for my primitive dinner. The moon was out and peeking through some clouds. Everything was drenched but the wood for my fire. After making a small ditch down wind and a safe distance from my tent, I surrounded it with large stones I collected from the lake shore. After that, I broke up some of the smaller pieces of wood for kindling. The fire started quickly and before long the rocks around it were warm and dry. I remember kicking one of the larger rocks away from the fire and replacing it with another rock. The warm dry rock I had kicked away from the fire would be my table and chair for the evening.
Remembering that hiking trip I am struck by how much I enjoyed the juxtaposition of primitive experiences of nature and self sufficiency and the civilized interdependencies that develop naturally through free citizens democratically choosing good customer service. I felt like I had proved McDonalds is more than just a successful restaurant. I’d decided it represents what Americans want at home and abroad. McDonalds represents what any restaurant can hypothetically do if the society that it thrives in and the government that it thrives under value customer service. Americans definitely do value customer service and that makes McDonalds a valued American Ambassador at home and abroad. But I don’t think I would’ve realized that without an empty stomach, a back country hike, a storm and pulp philosophy book.
Thank you Ambassador McDonald. Super Size me!
HUMINT: Secret Transcript
SATIRE: The following are transcripts of recorded conversations between chess pieces conspiring to check mate their opponents. To understand the jargon, let’s review chess pieces and the chess board. The players on each side include 1 King, 1 Queen, 2 Rooks, 2 Bishops, 2 Knights and 8 Pawns. The board, or battle field as it is aptly named by the pieces, is broken down into eight rows labeled 1-8 and eight columns labeled a-h. To designate the location of a piece, the notation is as follows, [ROW,COLUMN] for example, 1a indicates the far left and closest square on the white team’s side of the board. There are 64 squares on the battle field, differentiated by color, usually light and darker shades of wood. Each team is separated by color as well, commonly black and white.
The method by which this conversation was recorded is considered a national (chess) secret, not to be disclosed under any circumstances. The transcript was released to the media by an anonymous source who felt compelled to be an ass, despite the illegality and immorality of their treasonous act. As a non-partisan “journalist/blogger/sympathizer”, I am only propagating these damaging and controversial transcripts for blog ratings. Sure, I might be destroying my own free country. So what?
Be forewarned. This secret transcript continues below with admissions of guilt and a conspiracy to commit a cover up. It reveals a disturbing fictitious truth. This is a story about two Knights abusing an enemy Queen. It’s about a Pawn who inadvertently leaked classified material and will probably end up paying for it for the rest of his short life. It’s about U-Tube and a classified threesome. It’s about a Rook running interference for a King, preparing his team for reelection. It’s about all of the chess pieces in the world… It’s about the billions of pawns playing chess on line right now. It’s more than a story. It’s a reflection of my anthropomorphic representation of chess pieces. Their fictitious hopes. Their fictitious dreams. HUMINT: Does it matter that it’s fake? No, not really… You have the evidence now. Judge for yourself.
2003-04-07 [18:06.12 – 18:32.52] Conversation between WP4 and WR2 concerning their opponents
WP4 to WR1: Damn! Did you see that U-Tube video of BQ with WK1 and WK2? They were tag teaming her in front of BK’s face. WK1 came in from behind and locked her down. She was trapped and WK2 took her out.
WR1 to WP4: That was a classic, but that film shouldn’t have been made. That was a classified move they made and now the whole frikin planet knows it… You know our king! Mother [redacted explicative, substitute “messing”] WK doesn’t want BK1 and BK2 [redacted explicative, substitute “messing”] around with his WQ. Do you know who was holding the camera… filming this thing? I’m going to kill the prick. That’s not to mention what I’m going to do to the guy who posted it on U-Tube…
WP4 to WR1: Oh [redacted explicative, substitute “crap”] WR1, I did it… that was classified?… you’ve got to be kidding me! WK1 and WK2 were doing their jobs and I was thinking…
WR1 to WP4: You weren’t thinking, God [redacted explicative, substitute “Bless You”]! What the hell am I going to tell WK about this? He is going to frikin kill you.
WP4 to WR1: Have you seen how the pawns are acting out there on the front lines WR1? They’ve seen the video and are all fired up. We are cutting the enemy’s lines of communication, chasing them into their little spider holes and tossing grenades in after them. Do you know how important U-Tube is? Do you know how many pawns are playing chess online right now? You and WK must be so out of [redacted explicative, substitute “”] touch that you’ve forgotten how to lead a group of pieces to victory. Did you ever really know? Do you pricks actually believe in anything or are you a bunch of… That’s it isn’t it? You’re afraid of true believers and that’s why you cower when it comes to a fight or a conversation with them. There was no such thing as U-Tube when you guys were earning your spots on the board. You have to understand, if we lose out there, we lose here as well! Damn it!
WR1 to WP4: Bull [redacted explicative, substitute “crap”]! Our team has elections coming up again soon and we aren’t ready for this mess you’ve made…
WP4 to WR1: Who do you think we are WR1? We’re chess pieces. We don’t have elections! It’s our job to go out there and take down the other team. Listen to me WR1! You are going to do exactly what you did after you killed eight BPs in a rage after one of them took out your WR2. You are going to cover this thing up and we are going to forget about it. Alright!
HUMINT: As a student of Chinese culture and war, I seldom mention my preference for Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching over Sun Tzu’s Art of War. Why? I’m not sure, but it’s certainly not to hide my love of universal wisdom in order to emphasize my learned theories of war. On the contrary, my favorite moments are spent with enlightened souls who appreciate consuming and producing contemporary versions of ancient wisdom. Ancient Chinese philosophy and superstition is unique in its ability to condense knowledge, history, lust, love and experience into snappy little phrases.
Ancient Chinese texts are fascinating. They tend to organize words and images, as though they might become keys in the right hands… keys to a spiritual dimension where time becomes irrelevant; where the past, present and future join together and are at one with wisdom. I suspect much of the universal wisdom and superstition held by the ancient Chinese came through spilling the blood of their enemies. Wise men do not gain their wisdom without challenging themselves or facing their greatest challengers. In the rich history of China, there have been many great fighting styles that merge observations of nature and society to facilitate the only conceivable resolution of conflict to warlords, victory! One of my personal favorite ancient fighting techniques is Drunken Style…
There are many stories about the origin of Drunken Style but none speaks to its effectiveness or even its enlightened meaning in terms of combat. To my mind, Drunken Style is a philosophical place where the Tao Te Ching and the Art of War meet. Drunken style is deceptive to an opponent, rendering a combatant numb to the attacks of his adversary, fluid in his attacks but the accuracy may be impaired – or so an opponent may think. Drunken Style contains moves that are nearly impossible to achieve when one is impaired by alcohol, so the thinking goes, the style was used primarily by sober fighters. Therefore, it is most probably a style that seeks to hide something --- and or express something --- that could not be hidden or expressed otherwise.
Sober or Drunk, Drunken Style is a frame of mind. Like many ancient Chinese fighting styles, the combatant takes on the role of a character, transcending their own. It’s as if the Chinese understood the concept of traumatic stress and shock so well that they developed ways to preemptively split their personality before entering combat. If true, there are undoubtedly benefits and drawbacks to an individual’s psyche. Instead of getting too carried away with therapeutic repudiations of how the Ancient Chinese prepared for combat may have adversely influenced their relationship with their mother, for the sake of this essay, it is sufficient to say the benefits must have outweighed the risks. If choosing a fighting style kept a combatant winning over rivals, that fighter would be better off suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than being dead. Lest we forget, Ancient China existed in a near constant condition of war and conflict.
Fortunately, average Americans are not burdened with the pain of existential war or the need to study martial arts as a means of survival --- or at least that is what we have come to believe. Because it seems unnecessary to some, my fascination with ancients at war may resemble a tourist taking photos of a fatal car accident to them. Be assured, my intellectual journeys through time, space and culture are a search for broader wisdom, not a Barnum & Bailey search for spectacles. The lesson gleaned from China’s Drunken Style are many but probably the most important is that manipulating ones identity during combat is an effective approach to dealing with inescapable horrors of war.
Here’s an illustrative, albeit fictitious example. In the 2001 series about World War II, Band of Brothers, a short dialog occurs between Private Albert Blithe and Lieutenant Ronald Spiers. It’s a dialog that contains all of the inherent wisdom of the ancient fighting techniques of Drunken Style. Spiers says to Blithe, “We're all scared. You hid in that ditch because you think there's still hope. But Blithe, the only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to function as a soldier is supposed to function. Without mercy. Without compassion. Without remorse. All war depends upon it.”
To be sure, there is no other way to approach an enemy. To illustrate the point; with regard to all aspects of life but war one should live life in pursuit of liberty and happiness. When it comes to war however, a separate identity should replace the main; an identity able to accept the worst case scenario as if it had already happened, and continue functioning normally, or almost normally. Every student of martial arts should know that there is no combatant more capable of destroying their enemy than one who appears drunk --- has abandoned all hope of survival as if he were already dead --- yet continues to strike his target, blow after blow. Without mercy. Without compassion. Without remorse. Victory depends on it.