Lost on a Storm Tossed Sea
Of Cyber Windowed Blessedness
Oblivions' Sanctioned Dreamer
Only Comments Here But None Will Come...So?
Just So As The Tale Goes Spinning Onwards
Ever Onwards Into The Dusking Hoardes
Of Inner Temperdness To Sing Wastrel Songs
That Bespeak The Sadness Of Ages Gone By
In Calumny Of Races Never Won Yet Forseeing
As If In A Glass Darkley - Beginningness Of All
In All Sublime Percpetions - Dwindling Forests
Of Futures' Parasympathetic Whine Spell Casting
Outwards To Long Dead Stars Breathing In Similitude
Fractalic Pens Of Plenitude Triumphant In A Song
Of Tattletale Wending Begun the Day You Lied Earthman
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Lost on a Storm Tossed Sea
Saturday, April 12, 2008
.CSV … comma separated values.
Spring is here, and with spring comes: sunshine, fresh flowers, … and a slew of navel-gazing, big-idea technology conferences. I recently returned from two such trend-spotting confabs: CI Foo Camp and ETech.
In format, the events were completely different. CI Foo Camp, organized by Google's Chief Economist Hal Varian and held on the Google campus, brought together 60 or so researchers all loosely connected to the idea of "collective intelligence" for a wide-ranging discussion with no set schedule. For ETech, O'Reilly's flagship annual conference, several hundred hackers, academics, and online gadflies converged on San Diego for four days of presentations about anything deemed an emerging technology.
But what I distilled from the two conferences was very similar—the same topic kept coming up, over and over. This emerging area doesn't have a catchy moniker yet, but you can think of it as an amalgamation of crowd theory, human terrain mapping, and social simulation. It is the science of groups; it is a new kind of quantitative political science.
The tools and theories needed to analyze social interactions are just now reaching the level of sophistication — in accuracy, in robustness – necessary to leave the lab and enter commercial duty. We are in a period analogous to the early 1970s, when developments like the Capital Asset Pricing Model and the Black-Scholes equation transformed finance, changing it from an art to a science, and opening enormous new markets in the process. Now, new equations describing "crowd dynamics" are about to change our lives. And not always for the better. This is one of the most significant technology trends I have seen in years; it may also be one of the most pernicious.
To understand why this technology is so important, and so dangerous, you need to understand its patrimony. First, although the technology is brand new, the idea is a classic, long-time geek trope. It shows up, for example, in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, the best-selling albeit thinly-plotted space opera, in which protagonist Hari Seldon develops the science of "psychohistory". According to Seldon, just as physics can predict the mass motion of a gas, even though any individual molecule is unpredictable, psychohistory allows us to predict the future of large groups of people. (It's not hard to see why this sort of thing appeals to the socially maladroit. Forming cliques, establishing social ties– it's complicated and messy stuff. If only there was a mathematics that laid it all out…)
But why is this technology only emerging now, not fifteen or twenty years ago? For any technology, there are only three possible answers to this question: Moore's law, the Internet, or the government. In the case of crowd dynamics, we have the last two to thank. The Internet has made the problem tractable by providing huge, easily-collected data sets of social interactions. But the government has been the real enabler. Just follow the money: nearly every relevant research project received funding from DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
It wasn't long after the 2003 invasion of Iraq that US military theorists began to realize that our soldiers were completely lost amidst the country's byzantine tribal structures, religious factions, and internecine feuds. They needed tools to help navigate these social structures that were as effective as their GPS devices and laser-designators were at guiding them through the local geography. DARPA moved quickly, creating a half-dozen social science programs, all of them focused on near-term research with mostly tangible deliverables. The mission became known as "human terrain mapping", sure to be one of the most important neologisms of this decade.
It's interesting, if unsurprising, that DARPA had focused on the social sciences only once before: in 1962, during the Vietnam War. That year, DARPA's director testified to congress that "it is [our] primary thesis that remote area warfare is controlled in a major way by the environment in which the warfare occurs; by the sociological and anthropological characteristics of the people involved in the war." The most ambitious result of this view was called "Project Camelot", described as an attempt to "develop a general social systems model which would make it possible to predict and influence politically significant aspects of social change in the developing nations of the world." It's unclear how much progress was made before, thanks to a poorly organized attempt at testing Project Camelot in Chile that was met with violent political protests and negative press domestically, McNamara canceled the program.
Cut to … San Diego, 2008, where the echoes of Project Camelot reverberated throughout an ETech presentation by Paul Torrens, a geography professor at Arizona State University.
Adapting 3D animation technology from video games, CG simulated crowds from movie special effects, and GIS systems from urban design, Mr. Torrens creates virtual worlds where autonomous agents can interact.
Each agent is built-up from many levels of rules: starting with basic kinematics (the hip-bone is connected to the …), then realistic physics (what happens when a body runs into a wall), then basic movement heuristics (take shortest route to exit), simple social behaviors (leave room if it gets too crowded), all the way up to sophisticated motivations (try to increase well-being by networking). Torrens has created a general toolkit that allows you to define these rules, then wind up your agents, plop them into a 3-D world, and let them run. By watching the results, says Torrens, we get a much better understanding of how crowds behave… and how to control them.
The first example Torrens showed was of hundreds of avatars trying to exit a building through a single doorway. In a process that resembles nothing so much as gas particles moving along a thermal gradient, the avatars egress is incredibly inefficient, with a major jam-up occurring right in front of the doorway. "The system works far better when a column is introduced off-center in front of the door," demonstrated Mr. Torrens. "It's counterintuitive, but the column sends shock waves through the crowds to break up the congestion patterns."
The next example was more disturbing. The scenario this time is a public demonstration, similar to the WTO protests that occurred in Seattle a few years ago. The model includes such details as tear gas which causes civilians to stampede, extremists who are trying to instigate violence, and mounted police. Torrens shows that changing a few small initial conditions controls whether the protest spins out of control or not, and suggests this simulation is a valuable tool for policing. Indeed. Demonstrating either startling ignorance or touching naïveté, Torrens argues that this scenario is really a public health issue, due to the possibility of injury. Well, yes – but, more importantly, it's a democratic, human rights issue, and improving the state's ability to squash demonstrations doesn't strike me as a desirable development.
An equally disturbing presentation at ETech was from Nathan Eagle, an MIT Media Lab researcher. While Paul Torrens took a top-down approach, simulating theoretical behaviors to see what happens, Nathan Eagle comes at it from the opposite direction. He takes a huge volume of empirical data on individuals' locations over time, and from that derives higher-level structures like affinity groups and schedules.
His dataset contains the proximity, location, and communication information from 100 subjects at MIT over the course of the 2004-2005 academic year. From this fairly innocuous data, Eagle is able to figure out what groups individuals belong to. As he explains, "the clique on the top left of each network are the Sloan business students while the Media Lab senior students are at the center of the clique on the bottom right. The first year Media Lab students can be found on the periphery of both graphs."
In one experiment, Eagle looked at how well he could predict an individual's activities over a 12-hour period, based on their data from the previous 12-hours. After training a simple Hidden Markov Model, he could predict people's behaviors with 79% accuracy. Additional experiments and results can be found at http://reality.media.mit.edu. (Warning: may provoke morose thoughts about just how structured and undynamic our lives really are.)
Admittedly, not all the work in this area has quite as obviously sinister undertones as these two examples. Perhaps the most innocuous bit of crowd theory came – surprisingly? – from Microsoft, at a CI Foo Camp presentation by Eric Horvitz. He spoke about SmartPhlow, an extremely sophisticated traffic monitoring system they have been operating in Seattle since 2003. Besides the normal traffic monitoring functionality, their system can also predict traffic for any day in the future, based on sporting event schedules, holidays, planned maintenance, etc. The system also has a notion of "surprise": by modeling what a person is likely to know (eg, that the bridge is always backed up during rush hour), and comparing that to current conditions, the SmartPhlow system can inform you of only surprising developments.
Crowd dynamics are exploited by the system to gather data. For roadways where the DOT hasn't installed car-counting sensors, the SmartPhlow system tries to contact users who are likely to be on that stretch of roadway at that particular time and asks them to enter their current speed. To avoid bothering an excessive number of users, SmartPhlow uses a model very similar to Nathan Eagle's to predict user's current locations.
Although not currently implemented, Eric Horvitz believes they can go one step further. Most traffic jams are emergent phenomena that begin with mistakes from just one or two drivers. According to Horvitz's models, they can actually "un-jam" traffic by calling drivers at a particular location, and giving them very specific instructions: "Move to the left-most lane, and then speed-up to 65."
These three examples are a start at mapping out the scope of the opportunity, and the potential for danger, posed by this new science of crowds. It's important to remember that these examples are not truly representative: most of the work in the field has closer ties to military objectives, but that isn't the kind of work that you're apt to see at left-leaning conferences. (In general, the work is on higher level rules that define how insurgencies grow and that simulates the complex social substrate found in Iraq. The results of this work are already finding their way to US soldiers. ) I think it's also important to keep in mind that the real danger with crowd theory has nothing to do with its ties to the military.
The notion that technology is somehow "neutral" was discredited long ago, but it seems to reemerge whenever someone dares declare a new technology harmful. To refresh: we now know that every technology has built-in biases; inherent aspects that make a technology better suited for certain contexts and applications. Because nuclear power, for example, requires enormous facilities operated by highly trained workers at great cost, it goes hand-in-hand with Big Government and a hierarchical society. A flatter culture, that is structured more like a distributed network, will find local energy sources like wind and solar more congenial.
I believe that crowd theory is inherently pernicious because it fundamentally relies on a simplified model of individual behavior. I'm not saying these models aren't useful, or don't offer real predictive accuracy. They are and they do. But by treating people as statistical stick-figures, we cheapen ourselves and, somehow, become less human.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Top 10 Ways to Seem Smarter Than You Are
Source: The List Universe
We all want to seem smart around workmates and acquaintances, but we often don't have the time to put in to further study to achieve this. Luckily, there are a few ways you can make yourself seem smarter with a minimum of effort. This is a list of the ten best tips for appearing smarter.
10. Learn a topic to debunk
The majority of "hot topics" are debated by people with very little knowledge of the subject. A good example of this is global warming - the majority of people you speak to on this subject will tell you how we must change our habits to prevent global warming, but few will know what "anthropogenic global warming" is. Spend a little time learning what the real experts on these faddish topics say and you simply can't go wrong. Try to remember some of the names of authors so you can quote them.
9. Improve your Vocabulary
The simplest way to do this is to subscribe to a "word a day" emailing list. Remember to ensure that you memorize the correct pronunciation and spelling of the new word or phrase. Perhaps you can start with mesonoxian, or any of the words on the Top 10 Weird English Words.
8. Obscure Knowledge
By developing knowledge in a very obscure area, you are very unlikely to meet someone else with the same knowledge. This means you can wax lyrical for hours and it doesn't matter how many mistakes you make - no one will know, and you will seem ultra-smart. You might, for example, spend some time studying the early Egyptian dynasties (or an interesting character like Smenkhkare,) or the writings of early Christian writers. You can be sure that even the most staunch Southern Baptist fundamentalist has never heard of most of the "fathers of the Church", let alone read anything they wrote. Saint Igantius of Antioch is a good start; you can follow up with Athenagoras, Irenaeus, Origen, Novatian, and Polycarp. Great subject matter for the Atheist who wishes to debate against fundamentalists.
7. General Knowledge
This can be done very easily. Buy a Trivial Persuit (Genus Edition) and memorize one card before going to bed each night. In no time you will have a fount of general knowledge so immense that no one will dare debate you at Friday night drinks.
6. Ask Questions
The best way to use this trick is to ask questions when you already know the answer. This is a form of Irony when used in the right way; when the person you are questioning answers, you can ask a related question which will make it appear that you have taken in what they said, absorbed it, and wish to clarify an aspect of the topic. Additionally, when you are discussing a subject with someone who clearly knows less about it than you, you can ask questions that you know will make them stumble. This is particularly good if you have a large audience as everyone will be in awe of you. Make sure you are humble when the person's weakness shows.
5. Learn About Good Books
Sparknotes. I repeat, sparknotes. Use the short notes found on this site to get a broad overview of famous classic novels. You only need to learn enough to make it seem that you have read the book. For a decent classic you should be able to do this in 30 minutes or less. And who knows, you may find that you want to read the book and gain some real intelligence.
4. Watch Movies
Watch some classic movies that are both good and bad. These movies don't have to be silent movies, black and white, etc. Just good movies, fulfilling movies. Also, watch some bad movies. Someone who can spout off one or two good movies will sound either smart or fake. But someone who can state both good and bad movies, and justify why each is classified that way, will sound intelligent.
3. Learn Quotes
A great writer once said: "Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone elses opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." - while this is amusing, it is not entirely correct when trying to appear smarter. People will be utterly in awe of you if you can quote a famous line from poetry, a great play, or a witticism by a literarary master. There are a million sites on the internet that will help you to find quotations. Learn one a day. If you wish to learn a few lines of poetry, I recommend starting with Plath, Ginsberg, or Whitman; everyone knows who they are, but few will be able to quote them. Oh - the quotation I used here is by Oscar Wilde.
2. Use Words you Know
Nothing makes you looks more like an idiot than fumbling language. Stick to what you know! People will argue that tapes and books can teach you new words, but you still risk a terrible mistake. Learning new words can broaden your thinking and amplify your ability to communicate. However, doing so will open you up to appearing stupid, so you should stick with words you are 100% positive of pronunciation and meaning. Even if it takes you an entire extra sentence to explain a concept that one word would have clarified instantly, it's totally worth it.
1. Be Quiet
Quite simply, the less you say, the less you can say wrong. Oh, and smile and nod knowingly.
RELATED ARTICLE: Is Intelligence Necessary to Succeed?
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Dreams From My Father, Lame Excuses From My Grandfather
By Ann Coulter
Since a Chinese graduate student at Columbia University, Minghui Yu, was killed last Friday when black youths violently set upon him, sending him running into traffic to escape, I think B. Hussein Obama ought to start referring to the mind-set of the "typical Asian person."
As of Wednesday, police had no motive for the attack, and witnesses said they heard no demand for money or anything else. The Associated Press reports that the assailant simply said to his friend, "Watch what I do to this guy" before punching Yu.
Meanwhile, let's revisit the story about Obama's grandmother being guilty of thinking like a "typical white person." As recounted in Obama's autobiography, the only evidence that his grandmother feared black men comes from Obama's good-for-nothing, chronically unemployed white grandfather, who accuses Grandma of racism as his third excuse not to get dressed and drive her to work.
His grandmother wanted a ride to work at 6:30 in the morning because, the day before, she had been aggressively solicited by a homeless man at the bus stop. On her account, the panhandler "was very aggressive, Barry. Very aggressive. I gave him a dollar and he kept asking. If the bus hadn't come, I think he might have hit me over the head."
Even Obama's shiftless grandfather didn't play the race card until pretty far into the argument over whether he would drive Grandma to work. First, the good-for-nothing grandfather told Obama that Grandma was just trying to guilt him into driving her, saying, "(S)he just wants me to feel bad."
Next, he complained about his non-work routine being disrupted, saying: "She's been catching the bus ever since she started at the bank. ... And now, just because she gets pestered a little, she wants to change everything!"
Only after Obama had offered to drive his grandmother to work himself and it was becoming increasingly clear what a selfish lout the grandfather was, did Grandpa produce his trump card. The reason he wouldn't get his lazy butt dressed and drive Grandma to work was ... she was a racist!
As Obama recounts it, on Grandpa's third try at an excuse, he told Obama: "You know why she's so scared this time? I'll tell you why. Before you came in, she told me the fella was black. That's the real reason she's bothered. And I just don't think that's right." So I guess I'll be heading back to the sack now!
That makes sense. It certainly never bothers me when crazy white people harass and threaten me.
This is Obama's own account of what happened, which -- as anyone can see -- consisted of his slacker grandfather making a series of excuses to avoid having to drive the sole bread-earner in the family to work.
But Obama says, "The words were like a fist in my stomach, and I wobbled to regain my composure." (It was as if he had been punched by an aggressive panhandler at a bus stop!) And not because his grandfather's sorry excuse reminded him that he came from a long line of callow, worthless men, both black and white.
No, Obama swallowed his grandfather's pathetic excuse hook, line and sinker, leading Obama to a reverie about his grandparents: "I knew that men who might easily have been my brothers could still inspire their rawest fears." That's true -- assuming his brothers and sisters were menacing people at bus stops.
How deranged would you have to be to cite this incident as evidence that your grandmother thought like a "typical white person" -- as opposed to your grandfather being worthless and lazy? For those keeping score, Obama is aghast at his grandmother's alleged racism, but had no problem with Jeremiah Wright's manifest racism.
If Obama is sent reeling by the mere words of an elderly white woman, how is he going to negotiate with a guy like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? What if Ahmadinejad calls him "booger-face"? Will he run crying from the table?
Your grandmother wasn't a racist, Barack. Your grandpa was just a loser. Can we wrap up our national conversation about race now? I think we'd like to move onto questions about your stupid plan to hold talks with Iran.
Yeah, I like Ann. I like her mind, I like her body, I like her smile. She doesn't pull punches and is a lawyer. I happen to like lawyers too, I've used a lot of them in my life and can honestly say that without them, well, my *** would have been grass. The price ya pay when you're in need of 'legal services' is always relative. I've known some judges too, like Judge Sweet in Atlanta, and others like Yaakov Bazak, a notorious 'hanging judge,' in Yisrael. Having treated them all with a little bit of re-spectare I've found them all to be willing to go the extra mile if you weren't trying to slither off the hook but seriously wanted to know...the law.
Well, enough of the shpiel from me, for now. Maybe someday I'll be a writer like Justin Raimondo, for instance...
Oh, my friends, this is a good one with some sage advice! Do Hillary or Obama or John McCain or, for that matter, President Bush, have their Green Cards yet? Cf: Trading With the Enemy Act!
After all they do work for a foreign Corporation who under color of law calls itself the United States of America but is nothing but Washington Municipal Government Inc.!
Bring back the troops? Only to toss these buggers out of their high crimes and misdemeanors offices! Resist the foreign usurpers in Washington D.C. They are NOT your Government of the people, by the people, and for the people! They have comitted treason of the worst possible kind and that IS punishable under the primal constitution, by ???
April 07, 2008
Truckers Protest, the Resistance Begins
Until the beginning of this month, Americans seemed to have nothing to say about their ongoing economic ruin except, "Hit me! Please, hit me again!" You can take my house, but let me mow the lawn for you one more time before you repossess. Take my job and I'll just slink off somewhere out of sight. Oh, and take my health insurance too; I can always fall back on Advil.
Then, on April 1, in a wave of defiance, truck drivers began taking the strongest form of action they can take – inaction. Faced with $4/gallon diesel fuel, they slowed down, shut down and started honking. On the New Jersey Turnpike, a convoy of trucks stretching "as far as the eye can see," according to a turnpike spokesman, drove at a glacial 20 mph. Outside of Chicago, they slowed and drove three abreast, blocking traffic and taking arrests. They jammed into Harrisburg PA; they slowed down the Port of Tampa where 50 rigs sat idle in protest. Near Buffalo, one driver told the press he was taking the week off "to pray for the economy."
The truckers who organized the protests – by CB radio and internet – have a specific goal: reducing the price of diesel fuel. They are owner-operators, meaning they are also businesspeople, and they can't break even with current fuel costs. They want the government to release its fuel reserves. They want an investigation into oil company profits and government subsidies of the oil companies. Of the drivers I talked to, all were acutely aware that the government had found, in the course of a weekend, $30 billion to bail out Bear Stearns, while their own businesses are in a tailspin.
But the truckers' protests have ramifications far beyond the owner-operators' plight --first, because trucking is hardly a marginal business. You may imagine, here in the blogosphere, that everything important travels at the speed of pixels bouncing off of satellites, but 70 percent of the nation's goods – from Cheerios to Chapstick --travel by truck. We were able to survive a writers' strike, but a trucking strike would affect a lot more than your viewing options. As Donald Hayden, a Maine trucker put it to me: "If all the truckers decide to shut this country down, there's going to be nothing they can do about it."
More importantly, the activist truckers understand their protest to be part of a larger effort to "take back America," as one put it to me. "We continue to maintain this is not just about us," "JB"-- which is his CB handle and stands for the "Jake Brake" on large rigs-- told me from a rest stop in Virginia on his way to Florida. "It's about everybody – the homeowners, the construction workers, the elderly people who can't afford their heating bills… This is not the action of the truck drivers, but of the people." Hayden mentions his parents, ages and 81 and 76, who've fought the Maine winter on a fixed income. Missouri-based driver Dan Little sees stores shutting down in his little town of Carrollton. "We're Americans," he tells me, "We built this country, and I'll be damned if I'm going to lie down and take this."
At least one of the truckers' tactics may be translatable to the foreclosure crisis. On March 29, Hayden surrendered three rigs to be repossessed by Daimler-Chrysler – only he did it publicly, with flair, right in front of the statehouse in Augusta. "Repossession is something people don't usually see," he says, and he wanted the state legislature to take notice. As he took the keys, the representative of Daimler-Chrysler said, according to Hayden, "I don't see why you couldn't make the payments." To which Hayden responded, "See, I have to pay for fuel and food, and I've eaten too many meals in my life to give that up."
Suppose homeowners were to start making their foreclosures into public events-- inviting the neighbors and the press, at least getting someone to camcord the children sitting disconsolately on the steps and the furniture spread out on the lawn. Maybe, for a nice dramatic touch, have the neighbors shower the bankers, when they arrive, with dollar bills and loose change, since those bankers never can seem to get enough.
But the larger message of the truckers' protest is about pride or, more humbly put, self-respect, which these men channel from their roots. Dan Little tells me, "My granddad said, and he was the smartest man I ever knew, 'If you don't stand up for yourself ain't nobody gonna stand up for you.'" Go to theamericandriver.com, run by JB and his brother in Texas, where you're greeted by a giant American flag, and you'll find – among the driving tips, weather info, and drivers' favorite photos –the entire Constitution and Declaration of Independence. "The last time we faced something as impacting on us," JB tells me, "There was a revolution."
The actions of the first week in April were just the beginning. There's talk of a protest in Indiana on the 18th, another in New York City, and a giant convergence of trucks on DC on the 28th. Who knows what it will all add up to? Already, according to JB, some of the big trucking companies are threatening to fire any of their employees who join the owner-operators' protests.
But at least we have one shining example of defiance of the face of economic assault. There comes a point, sooner or later, when you stop scrambling around on all fours and, like JB and his fellow drivers all over the country, you finally stand up.
Monday, April 07, 2008
The Pursuit of Happiness
1. the quality or state of being happy.
2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.
—Synonyms 1, 2. pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness, delight, enjoyment, satisfaction. Happiness, bliss, contentment, felicity imply an active or passive state of pleasure or pleasurable satisfaction. Happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good: the happiness of visiting one's family. Bliss is unalloyed happiness or supreme delight: the bliss of perfect companionship. Contentment is a peaceful kind of happiness in which one rests without desires, even though every wish may not have been gratified: contentment in one's surroundings. Felicity is a formal word for happiness of an especially fortunate or intense kind: to wish a young couple felicity in life.
—Antonyms 1. misery.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
We spend much time thinking that we have to have certain things... Or do certain things in order to be happy. Many people depend upon other people and the actions of those other people to make them happy. The pursuit of happiness is a favorite pastime in these United States.
Check out our movies... Check out the TV programs... Check out where people go for entertainment... Check out how much time and money is spent on entertainment. Entertainment is a method of gaining contentment... Contentment is one of our keys to happiness.
1. the act of entertaining; agreeable occupation for the mind; diversion; amusement: Solving the daily crossword puzzle is an entertainment for many.
2. something affording pleasure, diversion, or amusement, esp. a performance of some kind: The highlight of the ball was an elaborate entertainment.
3. hospitable provision for the needs and wants of guests.
4. a divertingly adventurous, comic, or novel.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
When I was a child I was left to entertain myself. I read, listened to the radio, went fishing, went hunting, went exploring, went to visit neighbor kids to play, went swimming, built my own small world with my trains and accessories and set up problems to solve using them... Comic books were an occasional treat... A movie in town six miles away was an occasional treat... A drive-in movie with all the local kids in the back of a truck was an even more rare treat... Going to the skating rink was a rare treat...
Then a couple neighbors got TV's and we had more convenient entertainment as long as we got along well with those kids...
All of this kept me entertained until I was old enough to discover girls... Then I would hitch-hike to town for dates... And then hitch-hike back home, sometimes hiking all the way, the full six miles in the deepest darkness of night. Next came use of parents car... Then a job... Then a motorcycle... Then my own car... All of this in the pursuit of entertainment which is supposed to contribute to our happiness.
Then I moved to the city school where I could gain a better education... After a lot of dating many girls and pursuing happiness, I met the love of my life, whom I married as soon as I graduated high school, and immediately went to work in engineering and started studying and learning Civil Engineering. This was supposed to be ecstasy... And it was... except now I had obligations rather than being able to pursue happiness I had committed myself to trying to provide for someone else and make her happy.
I was never taught nor shown what marriage was supposed to be so I went into it with the popular romantic notions of the day... Sleeping all inter-twined with each other is supposed to be happiness, but I found I could not sleep well that way and neither could she. Sometimes touching one another would bring peaceful sleep... Sometimes cuddling one another would bring peaceful sleep... But most of the time she was on one side of the bed in a comfortable, for her, position and I was on the other side in a comfortable, for me, position. Romance might precede sleep and bring it on but romance was one thing... Sleeping was another. We may have slept in the same bed but the sleeping was not romance.
The interaction of daily living for two people in love was supposed to be romantic according to the movies and love stories of the day... But we found out that engaging in intimacy was not the major pastime of daily life... Work and selfless concern for the needs of the other person in the marriage was supposed to be the major pastime of daily life... But sometimes work took so much out of you that you could do little more than work, eat and sleep.
When not working, eating or sleeping, my wife and I found that we had different interests that entertained us.... So we each pursued the interest that contented us. We also learned to be tolerant of our differences and we learned to ask for what we needed from the other if we were not receiving what we needed that the other could furnish. That is called communication and it is the most important factor in any marriage. Marriage and intimacy cannot work without good communication. Communication means at least two people giving and receiving messages to one another and employing feed back to clarify that each is receiving the message the other person is sending.
I now know that it is the responsibility of parents to teach boys how to be husbands and fathers... And to teach girls how to be wives and mothers.... But no one had taught us and we learned by much trial and much error, but we survived and learned to love each other more and more each day, no matter how trying the day was. Premarital training was severely lacking in my society as I was growing up... And I find that it is just as lacking today as it was then. I also found, as a clergyman, that even when I give premarital counseling to young people... When they get into trouble in the relationship... That they seldom remember our classes and discussions. Then they must come back for more help or they fail in the relationship.
We grow up watching movies and programs where everyone drinks alcoholic beverages to be sociable and find entertainment and happiness... Especially the heroes and stars drink, often to excess, and make it look enticing... And often we see them tearing their clothes off as they try to get to each other, supposedly having the unbridled passion sparked by the alcohol. I found out that alcohol hindered my ability to be sociable or sexual and that contentment and happiness eluded me if I engaged in drinking alcohol so I very quickly gave up on that popular practice even though most everyone around me engaged in it except my wife and I.
When I became a law enforcement officer as a Trooper I found that our private parties were always populated with alcohol and most everyone drank, some drank far too much, and still drove their cars to get home.
I saw alcohol destroy the marriage of my father and mother... And then it finally destroyed my father's life by being the cause of his losing everything that it took to live... Then he took his own life with a shotgun to the chest. I had to enter that boarding house room and clean out his things while bits and pieces of him were still clinging to the walls around me and his peculiar odor permeated that room. Alcohol was one way he choose to pursue happiness and I watched it insidiously steal life from him until he could no longer live. A little would make him fun seeking and jovial... More would make him sick and mean. He could never stop with a little. It was always too much.
For over 45 years I have counseled people with problems and enforced the laws or assisted in enforcing the laws governing public drunkenness and driving under the influence. For most of that time I have been involved in the tragic aftermath of the incidents that happen to people pursuing happiness while drinking alcohol or consuming mind altering drugs and helping to handle the grief created by the mishaps that cause injury and death while they are so busy pursuing happiness and contentment.
For the past 18 years it has been my summertime duty to work the busiest block on our resort strip where there are about a dozen nightclubs on the three sides of the block... And assist in keeping the peace among those who mix alcohol with the pursuit of happiness... Some wind up in fights; getting arrested; spending the night in the gray bar hotel; in the emergency room; or their bodies wind up in the morgue and I have to deliver the bad news to surviving family and loved ones.
All of this is a message conveyed to our world about contentment and happiness but it is all deceptive and falsehood.
Alcohol, illicit mind altering drugs, sex, free love with multiple partners... Just some of the pastimes of our society today... These are not routes to happiness and contentment. They are just places on a very bumpy road that cause the users to need more and more of whatever it is that the are using just to get close to the last high they experienced... But never quite getting there. They get trapped into seeking that perfect high... That perfect experience... That unending good time... NONE OF THESE EXIST... But the message of our time is that it does exist and that the seeker can achieve it most any time. I have watched this parade for over 45 years and I have found no one who was able to achieve the high and maintain it over any reasonable period of time by using these methods.
Happiness can be attained but not as the world says it can be done. There is a way to happiness but it must be inside the person and it is not gained by all of the worldly, external methods most people are using. Happiness and contentment are a by-product... A by-product of learning the simple way that life was designed for us to live and by learning how to give the proper attention to each facet of our lives that we may be fruitful, have peace, have contentment and enjoy the life we have wherever we are at any moment. Happiness is also the by-product of learning what does not give us the happiness and contentment that we seek and leave those destructive things alone.
For me, the best and lasting happiness was meeting Jesus Christ after seeking a connection with God for twenty years. From the moment I met Him until this moment I have never been unhappy... Since I learned His way of life for me I have never been without contentment. I have been in some very hard and difficult experiences in those 45 years but I have never lost the happiness and contentment that started when I met Him... It has just become stronger and more durable. In my 45 years of serving the people in need in this world I have seen the worst of the worst... In my personal life I have plumbed the depths of personal loss... I have experienced the deepest pain of loneliness because of the personal losses and the deaths of loved ones... But never, at any of those times and experiences, did I ever lose my happiness and contentment... Not even during the deaths of my wife and youngest son... That my Compadres is a testimony to the Grace and keeping Power of our Creator and the Way of life He wants to teach to us.
Make no mistake here Compadres, I am not talking about religion, I am talking about life
learned and lived according to His directions for our time. I took the challenge... I learned the Way... I applied what I learned... It has worked for me and He put me here in this life as a Peace Keeper to help you when you need help and when you recognize that you need it. There are five areas of your lives that need regular attention and most do not give that attention because they do not know that they can or should.
In peace keeping we stress training, training, training... Practice, practice, practice... But when it comes to personal life most of us leave it to feelings and chance... Most of us are like pin balls in a game machine... We are shot into situations... We bounce off things... We fall into holes... We are slapped around by circumstances... Sometimes we win... Sometimes we lose... Sometimes it is a draw... And we become so empty inside that contentment is far from us... We become empty and hurting... We become hard to live with... We become hard to work with and work for...
Happiness is contentment and the best picture I can give you of that is an infant that is well fed, warm, clean, dry and cooing and playing with the toys we give him to amuse himself... or simply playing with his own feet that he has just discovered. Somewhere in our growing we lose that and only God can bring us back to it. If I had not proven that for myself over all of these long years, I would not be fool enough to write it into this message.
Warriors have always needed contentment. We gain it sporadically in many ways but it never seems to last for very long... Mine has lasted for over 45 years and still is mine in this moment in spite of all that life has thrown at me and the circumstances of that with which I deal today. Life has not been made easier for me as far as life experience is concerned. What has been made easier and better for me is that I know that I am not in this life alone and that all of my success does not depend upon me alone. I know that I can and do make mistakes but I also know that the ONE whom I serve and work with, my Commander-In-Chief, does not ever leave me without the support that I need in order to accomplish the tasks that are assigned to me. The adventure has been great and marvelous... I have stared Death in the face many times, yet I am still here today. In over 45 years I have received only two scratches... I have never had to strike nor injure any person... I have held a few... I have taken a few to the ground under my knee and flashlight... I have worked some terrible places and terrible circumstances alone.... I have made many multiple arrests alone... I gave a lot of people choices about how they wanted to respond to me... By Grace and Mercy I am still here to serve... Because by Grace and Mercy all those to whom I gave the choice responded to me meekly and properly or they were quickly, physically brought into submission and under control.
Even as I think on some of these incidents I see the Hand of my Creator giving me guidance and assistance... I learned and I responded to what I learned with application... And application brought me experiences and Wisdom... Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge and experience at the right time for the right results.
Now, I am well aware that He considers all of you His Ministers of Rightness in this world... But I am just as well aware that many of you do not have the knowledge He wants you to have in order for you to be continuously happy and content within yourselves. I pray daily for all of you to receive that knowledge and learn how to apply it to your lives.
My prayers for each of you always cover, relationship, strength, health, peace, power, prosperity... and now contentment... plus the greatest of blessing... Those prayers cover your families and loved ones as well. He and I want all of you and yours to receive what you need, learn how to cooperate with it... Learn how to apply it... and how to attain the results He has designed for you to have as His Minister of Rightness in this world.
We thank you... Eternally, we thank you... Without you there would be no world as we know it. This whole world needs you all and needs each of you. Thank you for who you are... For what you have done and are doing... And for what you are yet going to do.
"BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!" ALWAYS be alert, watchful, suspicious and wary. Take the very best care of you as you care for and about others. See to the strength and well being of your spirit as well as all the rest of you. Your spirit must be strong for you to be successful.
Call or write if I may be of any service... Or if you just want to encourage me... Feedback encourages all who write... It helps to know we are reaching someone who reads the message.
As it has always been... So it still is!!!
"VICTORIOUS WARRIORS WIN FIRST...
AND THEN GO TO WAR,
WHILE DEFEATED WARRIORS GO TO WAR FIRST...
AND THEN SEEK TO WIN." Sun tzu
Training and practice are everything!
Without it, the best results are not obtained!
ONLY LIVE PEACE KEEPERS SEE THE VICTORY!!!
THEY SEE IT ONLY BECAUSE OTHERS HAVE MADE THEIR ETERNAL
PAYMENTS OF SWEAT, BLOOD, TEARS AND LIFE FOR THAT VICTORY!
WITH THE DEEPEST OF APPRECIATION AND RESPECT...
BE BLESSED (A CONDITION TO BE ENVIED)...
BE SUCCESSFUL... BE SAFE...
[My injunction to be safe means doing all you know to do as you do your job... it means
doing the best you can with what you have where you are using all your faculties to get
the job done well and with good results conquering evil and keeping or restoring peace...
it does not mean to avoid duty and honor... it does not mean to cower or allow anything
to hinder you in the process of duty according to rules, law and ethics... it means that if
the demand takes your earthly life you destroy as much evil as possible in the process.
That is my definition of being safe... doing the best you can and leaving the rest to God
or whomever else is responsible... being best employed for the sake and protection of all
the things and people that we hold dear.]
I represent, write for... and give the credit to:
God the Father (my Commander-in-Chief),
Jesus Christ the Son (the Eternal Captain of my life) and
the Holy Spirit of God (my Eternal Teacher, Keeper and Guide).
In Christ I live... with Him and for you I serve...
And I rejoice that you are there whether you are Christian or not...
D. R. (Don) Staton, Chaplain to Peace Keepers,
Surviving Peace Keeper,
Virginia State Police Alumni,
RETIRED Police Officer Virginia Beach Police Dept.,
DCJS Certified Police Instructor,
Community Service Officer (Traffic Safety)
3709 Beacon Lane, Virginia Beach, VA 23452
All rights reserved. May not be duplicated without permission, except to be
forwarded with all source information for any quotation intact.
To subscribe to this free e-mail message for Peace Keepers,
write to Chaplain D. R. Staton at email@example.com or at
3709 Beacon Lane, Virginia Beach, VA 23452.
If you are a Peace Keeper you may subscribe to
the BLACKWATER TACTICAL NEWSLETTER by going to the
website at BLACKWATER USA.
Well. Here I've gone and done it again! Emerged into Twitter-verse for the second time around the Twitter-horn. Tweet, Tweet! Seems a lot more vacant then it did the first time around and twitter search for contacts can't seem to find my contacts in my gmail account! Weeeeeel! Tie me kangaroo down sport!
And since I am using Flock ,which has to it's/its' credit a nice looking blog editor, maybe I'll finally really have to learn how to 'touch type.' As it stands I'm practicing visualizing qwertyuiop before I go to sleep every night after my prana exercises, dead man posture musings, tantrik meditations and, sbgen theta mesmerizational sound garbings. Ta!
So...I'm writing this blog from the blog editor now and hating every moment of the badly designed qwerty keyboard yet somehow getting this done without hunt and peck for I'm a bit more advanced then that.
Now Web 4.0 will bring with it, the semantic web hasn't even reached the mainstream yet, many new weblications with which to shock-drift my already datum-drunk mynd-set! Remember that mynd = memory and memory is quantum bioelectromagnetic at core which is zero point, you guessed it, nada! And multi dimensional to boot! Hello iona miller - you delicious, "spooky," girl.
"By connecting with other members of Twine you can share information with each other. This area displays all the other Twine members you are connected to. To see who is in
Twine now and find other people to connect with," -
Twine is supposed to be Semantic (Web 3.0) Web yumminess all the way and I am getting to know here, so to speak, but how the heck much of this can a man take anyway! I need those q bit processors in my Brain right now, please!
Just thought I'd add that little rare bit for the fun of it. Now, where was I? Oh yes...Twitter! And lookie here y'all: someecards Oh, I don't yet know how to make the links here clickable as it has been a long time since I blogged here. Probably have to do an 'href' and I've forgotten most of my html so here I go again off into the codewoods of yester-year! More mental acrobatics in hyper-word-space. Maybe I'll reallylearn how to write something interesting someday.
I miss the days of believing Stripes was an accurate depiction of the U.S. armed forces. http://tinyurl.com/34c8qq
Twittering During TornadosLiving in the Bay Area, we have noticed that we reach for our phones to Twitter the second we feel an earthquake. It looks like Anne Jackson has discovered that Twitter can play a helpful role during Tornados too.
even though they were hiding in closets and basements, they could know exactly where the tornado was because of twitter.Update: Mark has been using the Twitter track feature to follow events like Tornados and collected quite a few updates as they rolled in.
For a while now I’ve been tracking a number of keywords in Twitter to see the flow of conversation around certain topics. It happens that I’ve been tracking CNN and tornado for a while. Little did I know that these two tracks would seem to merge. With last night’s tornado rolling through downtown Atlanta the play by play, via Twitter.
Now to view then publish this masterpiece. I'm tired and twitter makes me want to go run and hide somewhere! Gotta be a better way but, hey, it's supposed to be fun, right? Fun, fun, fun, till his daddy took his PC away! That won't happen to me but twittering ALL day long? Can you say 'Valley girl?'
Saturday, April 05, 2008
Yahoo! Or should I say Flocker!? Well, Flock, the new social browser, is really nice. It got me back here to Cyber Deck 13, my Blogger blog so it has got to be good and it is. I was noticing that I haven' written anything to my blog here since January of 06 or 07 so this, for me, symbolizes a real new start and revolution in my own life.
I've gotten involved over at Twine asa well but Twine really isn't a blog, so they say, and I am so new there that I am still learning what the EFF it's all about.
A bit cold and rainy here today and I haven't built a fire yet so I'm sitting around in my Ski Pants, Ski boots, thanks Stanley, and Ski Jacket! There is no snow here so one might wonder what a nut like me is doing with all that ski gear on? Keeping warm silly! I will chop wood and build a fire later on. We have a nice, old, iron, wood stove in the living room - and it keeps things toasty warm to incredibly hot whenever it is in use but since it is spring now, still wintry and cold, it will be getting used less and less.
Two days ago I cleaned it out when the temps were up in the 70's so that goes to show you how close we are to warmer weather but...with all the weather wars going on cf., T.Bearden's, one can never really 'bank' on what the weather is gonna be like on a day to day basis.
I'd like to throw in some nice and savy quote from Justin Raimondo here but just can't think of any at the moment but maybe you can read some of his stuff over at Lew Rockwells where you can also sign up for a nice newsletter from the source himself. Great stuff...
Hey, I'm just blurbing this blog for now as it is so sweet just to be blogging my mind soup again! Thanks Flock, I really do appreciate this. Flock has a blog editor too so maybe I'll be able to sweat shop some new marvelous content over the weeks, months, years to come before the singularity. Oh , yeah...gotta remind myself to learn how to use Flocks built in blog editor.
Gotta learn more how to use this space, too...and I've got other blogs that haven't been updated for years either so, hopefully, I'll keep the steam going this time around and content will be the new demographic that will fill my dreams with virtual worlds of wonderment and enduring entertrainment...neuromarketing via network enabled telepathy! AFCYBER...
Here is a little CSA for you. Chaotic Synaptic Activity rather describes the way I do business with my world. Data streams upon data streams within data flows about data flows metastasized by no thingness in particular and no particulars at all...simply - DAO. Media is built around demographics. But you knew that...and America is a republic not a democracy! So there!
Social networking and the cia? Yeah...you ought to read iona millers' "How I stopped hating, and learned to love, the CIA" sometime. Google 'spywhisperer' for a real treat into time. The A-Space, I presume, you've heard of? Compartmentalized OSINT! Is there, can there be, such a thing? Over compartmentalization is the death of the agency for sure! Euroflow? La Femme Nikita! And spies are in - nowadays - dontcha know. Technoflak I just discovered last night.
Intel Streaker is a term I made up for a variety of reason so don't steal it yet! ;) I've copy-lefted it and copyrighted it and will copy-lift it to beyondo bizarro world soon. Leftrighunite is another one of the spaces I'm twined up in and don't know what to do with just yet, I'm so friggin busy that it seems I never get anything done but that's not true for I'm a brilliant multitasker and after the ages turn I turn back and review and see all 'what I've done,' Charlotte, and stand back...aghast!
JTC-I, Joint Transformation Command for Intelligence, as well as JIL, Joint Intelligence Lab, are two places you can learn about JOINT things and that would be a good joint endeavor for those of us into building social webs or anything like that. Communes, Moshaviim, Kibbutziim...
Commonwealths, Nations, worlds..anything! Psychochemical warfare, asa well as information warfare, and just plain old asymmetrical warfare, are becoming ever present concepts in the MSM...concepts to be deployed against the citizen soldier in the citizen based citizenshipped and chipped societies of this holoworld planet called Earth, by some.
Network centric warfare, though, is coming of age with AFCYBER and the recent Cyberstorm II scenarios in place for our mutual enjoyment, fun and games. So I hope you read the above with your tongue in your mouth and mine not in my cheek and say: Howdy stranger, good ta see ya, been a long time. And forgive my audacity in even thinking about calling myself a blogger!
Belchfire is a nice space. A new verb for your vocabs: Dixie-Chicked into oblivion..the verb being: Dixie-Chicked.
In Dixie land where I was born early on one frosty morning look away, look away, look away...Dixie land!