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User Journal

Journal Journal: Ich Bin Ein Vulcan

JE 006 20050707R1606

Well, it's been a while, and it only took a London bombing to get me back on the digital soapbox. Here I am, and it's hard not to advocate for an end to libertarianism and civil rights when people take advantage of the freedoms afforded them by the "enemy" host society, to attack vulnerable noncombatants. I'm not so much angry as I'm fed up and pissed off. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As I've indicated before, I do have a faith background and consider myself to be religious. Like many others, my faith has some absolutes of belief and conduct, and some less absolute rules of conduct and interaction with nonbelievers. Some of these guidelines (interpreted by humans, with all the attending fallibilities and biases thereof) sugggest discriminatory conduct and supremacy theories. Like many other reasonable believers in various religions, I don't take these suggestions too seriously. My conduct is governed basically by the principle of "I don't care." I don't care what colour your skin is, what you believe in, where you're from, how tall, short, handicapped, or enhanced you are. I will treat you with respect, tolerance, and dignity, and frankly I expect the same. When I encounter people of different faiths or cultures, I'm pleased for the opportunity to learn about them, and for the most part I don't feel threatened. I'm embarrassed to say that many of my co-believers don't conduct themselves the same way, and the way they discriminate and perpetuate ignorance and fearful stereotypes shames and disgraces myself and my faith.

Now I know that maintaining an atmosphere of fear and being under attack is a good way to maintain control and expand your influence, recruiting defenders of the cause for the sake of deity and honour, but hasn't more good come from seeking understanding and peace? As I understand it, most people want to live in peace, most people are reasonable, moderate, and for the most part, tolerant. So where's the problem? More specifically, who?

Call them fundamentalists, extremists, true believers, or self-aggrandising bastards, the people with the close mindset and militant insistence that not only must they be right, they must also inflict their correct interpretation on others are the root source of the problem. Intolerance, fear, and militance are their weapons. Be th
User Journal

Journal Journal: Stalin Was On To Something

JE005 20041129M1045

It's time to push another possibly contentious button. On the topic of crime and punishment, how vigorously should a society protect itself and its citizens from predators and enemies before it starts presuming guilt rather than innocence and meting out cruel and unusual punishment?

I am Canadian, and pretty much the only thing I envy the Americans for is their penal system. Maybe I'm oversensitive to criminals being released at 2/3rds of their sentence as the rule rather than the exception and getting bullshit sentences to start with, but ya just gotta admire the way the Yanks can lay down and enforce the law. In Canada, a life sentence means 25 years maximum, whereas down South life means you leave the Big House in a box. There are a handful of inmates here who are locked up as dangerous offenders for an indefinite period (Clifford Olson & Paul Bernardo) and lots of rapists and killers who get out early when they should be locked away for a very long time.

So what should be done when a person willfully and dangerously breaks from society's norms? The society should be strong enough to protect itself, otherwise the government and courts lose the confidence of the citizens and vigilante action begins (a recent example in Mexico has brought the issue to the fore). As a supporter of law and order I cannot in good conscience condone vigilante action, but what good is a Criminal Code if it won't be enforced? There are some crimes which demand swift and severe punishment. It is at this point that I enter a more undecided state of mind.

The problem with the death penalty is that it is final, and if the wrong person is sentenced then justice has been wronged. OTOH, leaving the inmate alive leaves open the possibility of future offences (although in some cases, few and far between, rehabilitation is possible). It has been called cruel to advocate eye for an eye sentencing, such as retaliatory killing or injuring in the same manner it was performed. So if you can't rape the rapist, abuse the abuser, or torture and dismember the most heinous killers, how can justice be done?

This is where I turn to an evil, vile mass murderer for an idea - Joe Stalin had Siberia. Canada has the Arctic. For the worst of the offenders, they should have the choice of exile or death. Either ship them out to the middle of nowhere with minimal supplies (or better still put them on an iceberg) to fend for themselves, lock them down in a facility where they get bread and water in a 24 hr lockdown, or kill them. I don't expect the death sentence to be carried out as painfully as possible, but there's no way an inmate should be put under with drugs before being killed. Kill them quickly but painfully, so that the victims and society can have some measure of justice and satisfaction in showing the citizens that they are protected.

Basically, I support the death penalty, but I have one major problem with it (other than killing the wrong person). For some people death is just too good! The beauty of leaving them alive is that their torment can be indefinite. Maybe something like a life sentence in solitary confinement with absolutely no human contact, sustenance as needed for survival, and no possible way of committing suicide. Then you get the bleeding hearts that call this cruel. Where's the balance? At what point is justice served? Where is the society that protects itself without going too far? The funny thing is, when we got married my wife was pro-death penalty and I was not. Now I'm more in favour of it (a form of it, anyway) and she's not. Funny how a year can change you.
User Journal

Journal Journal: I Need an Idiot!

JE004 20041010S2100

"...And welcome back to XYZ News, your source for ads and FUD, and how it affects you. Locally..."
When did it all go wrong? In the beginning was the town crier, and all was froody. Until he lost his voice and realised nobody could read what he was trying to tell them. Then came the printing press and growing public literacy, and any idiot with some spare ink and quills or a few bucks for the printer could post articles on any town forum. Fast forward past telegraph, radio, and television, and you come to the world of blogs and internet forums and once again, any idiot can muddy the waters as needed. Believe it or not, this is a good thing.

Over the last couple decades news dissemination has covered more and more of the globe, carrying the gospel of advertising with increasing effectiveness while throwing in the token piece of news to keep the academics, junkies, and politicos at bay. It's not real news without a coporate sponsor, or better yet some corporate spin. Despite protestations of innocence and independence, it is becoming apparent that big business decides whether a story is in their interest to run, and then runs it, allowing the self-perpetuating cycle of media hype to inflate it to newsworthy status. I mean, how else does the auctioning of Britney Spears' nuptial undergarments become an entertainment headline? How else can the media report on itself and keep a straight face doing so?

To be fair, there are some individuals and news organisations that strive for true freedom of the press. Unfortunately, in alphabetical order they are Al-Jazeera, FOX, and the Weekly World News (and the last two don't count!) - it seems that the corporate agenda of political correctness stifles everything except mindless pre-spun propaganda from reaching consumers.

Yes, consumers. We are not the masses, sitting here with our minds active, as critically thinking independent citizens able to decide for ourselves whether or not Iraq was worth invading. We consume news product. It is the job of the media to deliver an audience to its advertisers and sponsors. It is the job of the viewer/listener to accept what is given, watch the ads, and buy the product. The news program is the vehicle through which the ads are delivered. Let's watch a car review brought to you by Mazda. Let's listen carefully to an environmental story brought to you by Esso/Exxon. And let's be sure to eat healthy, at McDonald's!

I took a tour of a local TV station that produces a local news show and was stunned to hear that if a news story broke at the end of the broadcast the ads would run at the prescribed time, overriding the news and replacing it with the sitcom to follow. Station breaks might be used to update the story, with "film at eleven" but come hell or stuff that matters, the ads must be delivered!

Well, that sure was reassuring. My local government might be raided by the police but at least I still get to hear about the newest movie coming up. Why can't I just go to a town crier who hollers out what's going on and if I don't want to hear it I can leave? Ah, technology. It can do wonders, but it comes with a price. Thankfully, it also comes with a cure.

Once again, any idiot can have a worldwide audience! (Just look at Rush Limbaugh:) If I doubt the corporate story, I can go elsewhere to find out another angle and get to the truth. So what if it might be wrong - Dan Rather's not perfect. So bring on the idiots! The infinite number of monkeys with their keyboards and broadband! I want the truth, not the party line!

Standby for breaking news. In the meantime, a word from our overlords.
User Journal

Journal Journal: But Can You Arrest Them All?

JE003 040924F1200

Sometimes I've gotta wonder. What does it take for industry to notice a need for change? SCO et al are messing around with the regulation of Intellectual Property, without even bothering to properly define it. The entertainment industry is dancing to the same music, in the key of copyright. The pharmaceutical industry builds up patents for naturally-occurring and synthetic chemicals to peddle to doctors seeking clients. What I understand is the need to finance future research and development. But then greed sets in and prohibitive costs pop their ugly little heads up and before you can blink, whammo there's a black market operating at discount prices. Oh, and before I move on let's not forget government's fundraising efforts through taxes, fees, and outright bribery.

Now, it's no question that theft (the ultimate discount) is illegal and anticapitalist. Open source activists can be compared to communist idealists since they advocate, in simplicity, the belief that information is common property and available to all. For the most part, governments operate as open source mechanisms, if you have the patience to read all the legislation and amendments, and the understanding to wade through the undocumented code that is the civil service. The downer is that this organisation that represents Joe and Mary Sixpack is allegedly run in their interests by those gifted with the ability to run it. Then that little word called "revenue" enters in.

Corporations, at least, are honest about existing solely for the cause of profit. Governments, supposedly exist in the middle ground between corporation and non-profit societies. This could be seen as moderation between extremes, and such a thing generally works, right? Why all the griping? It probably has something to do with John Q Public not liking his tax dollars getting wasted and the government getting co-opted by the corporations. So what does John do?

He sees banks making record profits. He sees entertainers and athletes making boatloads of cash that he ultimately contributes to. He sees ads for prescription drugs on the American channels from huge drug companies and he hears unceasing, unrefundable excretia flow from the **AAs while prices for all of the above skyrocket and his neighbour's job gets downsized/outsourced. Where's the balance?

If industry were to get its way everybody would pay full ticket price for everything, every time. Without restraint, this is not sustainable - if it were there'd be no file sharing, freeloading, or theft. If government were to get its way, the highest bidder would win the favourable policies and the taxpayer would subsidise the expenses associated (but of course this is purely hypothetical! *cough*Bombardier/Halliburton*/cough*). But then there's the consumers. As far as numbers go, they're pretty darn superior. They happen to (theoretically) OWN the government and control it's operation. They've got their own economy going right now and it's got the higher-ups tearing their hair out. Government is supposed to be, among other things, the mediating body between consumers/taxpayers and industries/big business. And yet government is trying to meddle in a fledgling new economy where people pay affordable, fair prices for what they like, and they lose what they don't like. What's the problem here? What we need is separation of church and state & BUSINESS! Round up the lobbyists, be they special interest groups or thinly veiled industry or corporate bribery, and SHOOT THEM ON SIGHT! Why should business be able to declare that a fair market economy such as the one that is developing now is illegal?

Government is by the people, for the people. Business and free enterprise are a side effect of our economic system, not a foundation of government. Sure they provide jobs and money for the economy - but we'd get by without them with an alternative structure. Regardless, if business and industry lobbyists are allowed to buy legislation to criminalise an innovative economic model, then every taxpayer, every consumer, every customer that uses this new system becomes a criminal. I almost welcome the attempt to enforce the proposed laws - millions of people choosing not to pay fines or otherwise comply with the law. The Brits had trouble with Ghandi's nonviolent movement. Who wants to bet the **AAs will have trouble enforcing this attack on their clients? Millions of people standing up for their rights. Millions of "criminals" - can you really fine, prosecute, and arrest them all?

Tune in next time, when I look at the news/information/advertising industry.

As usual, comments are welcome.

Lord Helmet.

Note: The author does not in fact condone the vigilante execution of democracy hijackers without a trial. Any such vigilantes will be rounded up and shot.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Holy Wars, Batman!

JE 002 040919S1410

What is it with these holy wars everywhere? Radical Muslims abusing the notion of "jihad," geeks warring over favourite distributions of *nix (at least this conflict tends to draw less blood), and God forbid anyone should try point out something positive about Microsoft. You've got secularism dictating dress codes in France, an ongoing knock-down-drag-out in the USA between [begin list] abortionists/prolifers, traditionalists/those who want "God" out of the pledge of allegiance, any conservative faith group/ACLU, and I'll just ignore India/Pakistan for the moment. [end list]

Where did we get this idea, anyway, that one person or group should be able to dictate the way things should be without considering the rights of other groups to determine how they would like to live? A variation of this idea is admittedly the foundation of the rule of law, however most laws are based on a common consensus and not all laws are just, some are quite blatantly discriminatory (segregation for one). Let's assume just for the fun of it that a bunch of [minority group] were to win power and enact laws that favoured them. Someone in that group is bound to have a long memory and pass one tiny provision that would make life a little irritable for members of the former majority group that didn't treat them well. Or assume that a bunch of level heads prevail, there's still going to be someone in disagreement. Lather rinse repeat - history's full of examples how this could play out. Disagreements escalate, things get dicey, someone either leaves the playground in a huff and crosses the Atlantic to start their own domination plan or somebody gets hurt (it's all a difference of opinion until someone gets burned at the stake). Be it religion, morality, soccer/football hooliganism, *nix or Sharia vs democracy and separation of church and state, the root (heh, root) cause is still the same. Anyone care to guess?

One word is intolerance. Cousins of this term are stupidity, stubbornness, close-mindedness, self-righteousness (try that one on a manifest-destiny group, be it American or religious!) basically anything that assumes group A knows everything, or at least what's best for group B. I mean, the UN's great and all, but how are we supposed to know that the best thing for Darfur in specific and Africa in general isn't to let the genocide happen, facilitate evacuation of civilians when possible, and let the two sides finish each other off. Okay, that's a bit extreme and inhumane. But really, is nobody unbiased except me? (um...) In their own mind everybody is unfalliable and all-knowing. Fine, leave them their fantasies. Maybe it's an issue of (ahem) inadequacy/insecurity that makes them want to impose this on others. (Psychologists could spend lifetimes on this issue. Go to it, boys, get back to me when you have the question. 42!)

It is a sign of maturity to recognise, accept, tolerate, and work with differences, be they cultural, ethnic, religious, software, diplomatic, political, sexual, or sport based. A wise Vulcan once said there is Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. Sunday school children sing about Jesus loving all the little children of the world. Businesses (supposedly try) hire without bias. The US Constitution got it right but just took a little while to get refined and properly applied. So obviously we're off to a start.

Many people assume that their way is the right way and try impose it on others, to what end? Ask the Americans how well the Iraqis are taking to a crash course in democracy - doesn't democracy require a revolution, civil war, or at least a century or two before taking hold? The guiding principle in any form of government, lawmaking, parole system administration, taxation, or social interaction should always be: "DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU," a simplified expression of "love your neighbour as yourself." If you as a person or policymaker could ask yourself before acting, "if our positions were reversed right now, would I appreciate [minority group/other] deciding this/doing this to me?" The only way for this to not be beneficial in the end is to hate yourself and actively seek your own destruction. Sure, it sounds trite as "can't we all just get along?" but if half the energy of conquest were to be put into cooperation, understanding, and assistance, wouldn't the end user get a better product? Imagine, a world without lawyers!

Anyhow, I'm LordHelmet, and that's my thought for the day. Now, who made that man a gunner?!

Comments welcome. Whoo-hoo, I have mod points again!

PS - a special prize goes to whoever can identify my location, race, religion, education, etc. - LH
User Journal

Journal Journal: Hello World

JE 001: 040917F1100

In an effort to become more integrated within the /. community I am starting a journal, on random topics, available for comment. I have been lurking on /. for a while now and have had mod points twice, so I must be doing something right. I tend not to post comments since someone has generally covered my opinion and I'm content to leave it at that. Enter the journal - anything from sports to politics to religion is fair game here, and I will try not to offend but I will speak my views - and since this is my journal if you're offended you can leave or take me on in a civilised manner, but if you're engaged by the topic then you can comment, reply, or email me.

So, for today. No specific topic, just an intro with a summary of interests. I'm 25, married, a geek of primarily AV colours with a heavy computer interest/background, unashamedly Canadian, hold a BA, and am intensely interested in what forms the culture around me. I have a definite faith, but in the interest of minimising prejudice I will allow future posts to disclose aspects of it. Topics I'll likely cover and invite comment on will include coporate & political ethics, privacy rights on a large and small scale contrasted with the need for security (tinfoil hat vs law and order), the balance of the one vs the many (needs, good, rights), economics, sports, science, philosophy, diplomacy, the role of technology in civilisation (and the white/black hat cowboys involved), assorted jokes and of course the foibles of married life (the last two of course mutually enforcing).

So we'll see how this goes. I'll try to be fair and I'll ask you to be open minded. Maybe we'll even have fun. I'll post and reply when I can (married life tending to affect my copious free time) and please, grammar Nazis go home - I use Canadian English, the metric system, Windows XP, and unleaded gas.

To Life! -LH

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