Monthly Archives: October 2012

More News on Drones

More Drone news:

Via BusinessInsider.com:

New research from the NYU School of Law and Stanford Law School details how U.S. drones employ a tactic, known as the “double tap,” that is considered to be a terrorist act by the U.S. government.

The double tap is when a targeted strike site is hit multiple times by hellfire missiles in relatively quick succession, meaning that the second missile often strikes first responders.

The report concludes that double taps by U.S. drones raises “crucial moral and legal concerns. Not only does the practice put into question the extent to which secondary strikes comply with international humanitarian law’s basic rules … but it also potentially violates specific legal protections for medical and humanitarian personnel, and for the wounded. As international law experts have noted, intentional strikes on first responders may constitute war crimes.”

That’s enough politics for today.

Both parties should hold their candidates responsible – NOT just put them on a pedestal

After two long years of election coverage I can see why Democrats and Republicans love their presidential candidate.  Both Obama and Romney are obviously intelligent, each seem to be devout family men, both are excellent speakers, and each have a resume anyone would be proud of.

The part that bothers me though is that devout party members seem to ignore their candidate’s flaws and mistakes.  Can a responsible voter really put the blinders up and pretend their candidate is perfect? Here are three quick things I rarely hear party loyalists seriously discuss.

Drones:

If there is one issue both candidates agree on it is the use of Drones.  One one hand I understand.  Drones keep American’s out of harms way and give us the capability of launching strikes and gathering intelligence at a distance; however, in many ways the use of drones makes it to easy and guilt free to take a life.

When killing feels a lot like a video game its hard to take responsibility or feel remorse for your actions.  I’d argue that is dangerous.

After the multiple reports of Drone Double Taps (a second bombing targeting first responders to initial drone attacks) the situation becomes even more distasteful.  I’d like to hear both candidates discuss this during the debates.

NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act):

Obama signed into law the NDAA in December 2011.  The most controversial part authorizes indefinite military detention without charge or trial. That includes military charges brought upon US citizens.

Doesn’t this portion of the bill have a large potential for abuse?

Romneycare:

Most “Obama-care hating Republicans” seem to have completely forgotten about Romneycare.  Governor Romney essentially implemented Obamacare at the state level – now he claims Obamacare is a horrible and evil thing.

For me this calls into question Romney’s lack of consistency during the entire election cycle.  What does Romney really believe?  Where does he really stand?  Can anyone decipher what he says for political gain versus what he honestly believes?  I can’t and I wish more Republicans would call him out for it.

The Benghazi “Riot” Lies:

You probably heard about a US ambassador being murdered during riots on September 11th of this year.  The Obama administration claimed these riots were caused by an Anti-Muslim youtube video that went viral.  That has been proven false again and again.

What’s more is that a recent article by Reuters even found evidence the administration knew this to be false before airing the story to the public.  It was actually an apparently preventable terrorist attack left ignored.  Why was that not brought up in the debate and why is the media remaining virtually silent about it?

People planning to vote for Obama should demand answers.

The National Deficit:

Both Obama and Romney claim to be taking the national deficit seriously; however, Obama is only adding to it and Romney can’t give any details on how he plans to reduce it. This is probably the biggest joke of the election and the biggest lie propagated by both parties.

If neither party plans on actually doing a thing about the national debt then they should just say so.  Democrats should demand Obama’s budget reduce the deficit and Republicans supporters should force Romney to painstakingly outline how his plan will reduce the deficit on a line by line basis.

If both candidates continue to lie while avoiding the details – neither of them deserve our vote.

Who Elects the President?

I was at my in-laws over the weekend and I asked my father-in-law how he goes about voting when he’s on the road. He’s been a truck driver for years and is used to having to deal with things from afar, while I’m new to life on the road and never really thought about having to deal with things like voting when I’m 700 miles away for business come election days.

After giving me the scoop, he and my mother-in-law began a tirade about how important it was we all get out and vote this year, to rid our nation of the Obama monster.

After their rambling, I looked at them and said, “Well, let’s be honest with ourselves, who we vote for here in Georgia is really only symbolic. Everyone knows this is a red state be default. It doesn’t matter who you vote for. And I’m voting for Gary Johnson, so POO on YOU!”

Alright, I didn’t say that last line about Gary Johnson. But after I gave them my 2 cents, they looked at me a little weird and dismissed what I was saying; probably deciding it wasn’t a good idea to get into political debates with the radical libertarian son-in-law of the family.

Well, for the record, I’m not so sure I’d label myself any political party in particular. I just so happen to think Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico, is by far the most viable candidate for this country this time around. And as for my other point, it is completely true! With exception of a few swing states, it doesn’t really matter who we vote for, since the majority is pretty well predetermined to vote one way or the other, therefor giving the entire state’s votes to one candidate or the other by default.

So, if you asked the average American what they know about how we elect presidents (The Electoral College system), do you think they’d even be aware that this is how it in fact works? Or do you think most people truly believe it’s a popular vote?

What about the republican and democratic presidential candidates? I wonder if most people realize we don’t elect those guys EITHER! I, in fact didn’t even realize just how little say the American public has in electing the candidates themselves until I participated in the delegate process earlier this year.

Oh but wait, it gets even worse, because it turns out even the delegate process appears to be some kind of front! In Georgia for example, they practically kicked all the Ron Paul delegates out (I know, I was there) and the rest who mostly supported Newt Gingrich ended up being weeded out or having their minds changed one way or the other until everything fell in favor or Mitt Romney.

As for the states that did end up sending Ron Paul delegates to the RNC, well they got booted out too for the most part, thanks  to some last minute rule changes. It turns out, the rules are whatever is most convenient for the majority. Fuck the minority voice. There’s no room for that in these United States of America.

And what about Rick Santorum? Rick was doing surprisingly well against Romney, until one day he just decided to bail out of the race. I think it was a little too close for comfort, and someone either blackmailed or influenced Rick otherwise (his daughter suddenly found herself hospitalized the weekend before) to drop out.

So who decides who is in charge, at least when it comes to choosing el presidente? I have no idea, but at least my eyes are opened wide enough to know it ain’t you and it sure as hell ain’t me!

-Holden

Internet Freedoms

Anyone concerned with Liberty or internet freedom might want to give this site a read. http://www.cleanitproject.eu/

The EU’s latest attempt, it seems, to put us all in line like good little slaves. Compliments of the No Agenda Show.

Using Terrorism to inhibit freedom:

the Internet is also used for illegal purposes, including terrorism, supporting terrorism and encouraging terrorism.

Public and private organisations will comply with national and European laws and regulation. Any action taken to reduce the terrorist use of the internet, will respect fundamental rights and freedoms, including access to the Internet, freedoms of assembly and expression, privacy and data protection.

Terrorist use of the Internet must be prevented as much as possible.

Three Important Truths I’ve Learned this Past Quarter Century

There aren’t many things I’m sure about – hell – there are less things I’m sure about today than at probably any time in my life. Having said that there are a few conclusions I’ve come to with some consistency that I think are worth sharing.

1. Stick to it

Anything I’m proud of in life, anything that I look back on and believe was worth doing, took time – and I stuck to it. Maybe this seems elementary, but I’ve always been the guy that would stick with something until the end. That has almost always paid off.

When I was playing high school football I started off as a third string guy. I was never going to see the field. Most of the other athletes were far superior to me via simple genetics, but I didn’t give up. A few hard workouts, a few guys quitting the team, and there I was – a starter. My senior year I didn’t come off the field. Not because I was the best, but because I just stayed on the team.

Almost anything else in life is that way too. Relationships, a career, obtaining an education, all require a lot of time and effort. My freshman year of college I really wanted to drop out and go to a local school near home – God I’m so happy I didn’t. So if you are thinking about quitting, maybe you shouldn’t.

The worst part is that if you make quitting a habit you never realize the fruits of sticking to it. That’s a bad habit to get into.

2. Feelings are chemical reactions

I’m an emotional guy even though people who know me would probably disagree. (I’m good at covering it up) I’ve been so angry that for an instant I could have killed, I’ve been so lust ridden that I could have cheated on my wife 100 times, I’ve been so depressed that I literally didn’t know what I wanted out of life. The one thought that kept me sane during those events was “these emotions aren’t real.”

Once you realize that emotions, no matter what they are, are simply the result of chemical reactions going off in your body causing you to feel a certain way – for me at least – they somehow become easier to manage. Anger leaves, that women you wanted so bad suddenly becomes not so special, and depression eventually fades.

The important thing is to make smart decisions based on facts and reality – not on your animalistic instincts. I think that’s why men like to get lost in sports so much. There is something incredibly natural about relying totally on guy reactions and knee jerk reflexes. A lot of that is a great release from our calculated and restrained lives.

Sometimes if you just take a step back and take some time (maybe blog about it) – things make more sense later.

3. If you think you know, you don’t

When I was 18 I thought I knew a thing or two. I was a smart kid, but damn looking back I realize just how dumb I was. That’s exciting too because I fully expect to look back on myself today and say “damn, I was dumb.” If you are constantly doing that – maybe you are getting somewhere.

The dumbest people on earth, in my experience, are those who think they have it all figured out – so they become stagnant. So the instant you find yourself thinking “I know a lot” step back and realize you have a really long way to go.

If anything, I hope I can always realize that I know almost nothing. I mean so far in life – I might know three things…

Lost in Translation – What I learned about Communication with foreigners in a Bar

One of the things I love most about travel and meeting people of different cultures and languages is the learning that takes place within myself. Here’s a quick example of something I learned – something that I think I already knew, but didn’t really understand the vastness of until last week.

I was out to dinner talking to a few Brazilian students who were at a conference for architecture here in the States. Each of them were either working on their PhD dissertation or already a professor.

These were obviously some of the most intelligent people I have ever met – and each of them spoke English to a varying degree. I speak some Spanish, but no Portuguese, so we stuck to English. I began having a conversation with a Brazilian woman named Rosane. Even in English I could tell she was quite intelligent though sometimes when my vocabulary became too complex, I used a common expression, used sarcasm, or spoke a little quickly I could tell she didn’t catch part of my meaning.

After a while she mentioned how it was difficult to articulate what she wanted to say – especially regarding philosophical or highly complex thoughts in a foreign language. That’s when it hit me – the vastness of language and communication.

Here sits two educated people with the desire to communicate complex and interesting ideas, but unable to speak much above a high school level. I love Language and this fact makes it all the more interesting to me – what things can two cultures fail to communicate – what things carry over? I noticed an infinite number of both in the subtleties of our conversation.

I can’t help but wonder how intelligent these people really were. What would that same conversation sound like in English or if I spoke Portuguese. I imagine it would have been deep and informative.

There was a indie rock band playing so on several occasions I tried to explain the metaphor in a lyric, or the meaning behind the title of a book, geo-political issues, etc. Some things I could tell they were instantly clear on, other things truly are lost in translation.

I am ashamed at the level of English other nationalities speak and my inability to speak a second language fluently. I think my new goal is to really master Spanish. I’ve sat on the idea long enough, used it briefly in my travels, but how can I really get to know a person and culture without speaking their language?

Communication, in all its forms, is the key to understanding.

Slipping Slowly into Madness

I hesitate to write this blog post. Usually my strategy in life is to stay positive, keep chugging ahead, and things will work out. By all measurable statistics that’s exactly how things are going. I have a job that pays well and is full of opportunity, I have a loving and caring wife, I have a house that is well on its way to being paid off, I have money in the bank, and based on pretty much anything else one might objectively and statistically measure success by I’m doing good. The problem is I don’t feel that way. There’s a gap.

I feel like an idiot and a selfish asshole for even complaining. So much is going good for me, but some days I feel hollow. It’s almost like a depression that I can usually get over in a few hours by changing my way of thinking or just forgetting about it. The problem is I’m tired of “just forgetting about it”, and I’m tired of this feeling creeping up on me. The conflict is horrible and it’s not fair for anyone who has to put up with it (mostly my wife).

Sometime this feeling effects my personal life too. There are days when I can’t even begin to give my wife the attention and love she deserves. I’m too selfish and too self concerned with some fucked up feeling of being unfulfilled. God it’s fucked. Worst still is that I am a master at covering it up. I can throw a smile on my face and make almost anyone think I am the most confident and happy person on the face of the goddam planet. Hell, maybe sometimes I am.

The Problem, the Uncertainty

The cause of these undefined feelings are hard to nail down. Is it my life, my career, genetic, mommy and daddy issues, marital, spiritual, or some combination thereof? I have no fucking clue. Sometimes right when I feel like I might have a solution or the culprit of my emptiness identified I realize the actions required to rid myself of those feelings are risky at best – stupid at worst.

Why does the human existence have to be so fucking complicated. Maybe it isn’t – maybe I’m just making it complicated. I don’t know…

Honestly, part of me is afraid. Afraid of making a stupid decision. Afraid of making the wrong decision – especially when my current existence by most people’s standards is pretty fucking good (see paragraph one). I wish someone would just say to me: “Do it. Take the risk. Do “X”. That’s what you should do and you will be happy for it.” I’m no idiot though.

There’s no magical person out there that can tell me what I really need to do to feel full to the brim with satisfaction. If I wanted that kind of lie I would buy a fucking Joel Osteen book.

Vegabond

Also, I keep coming back to this idea of selling everything I own and just traveling and working by doing whatever I can do. Of course I would do a lot more planning than that before I actually took the plunge, but the idea keeps falling back to the forefront of my mind. I haven’t fully developed a plan here, but it keeps haunting me. Is this common? Does anyone else have this?

Every time I meet someone from another country I feel like I become twice as informed. Just having the slightest insight into another person’s thoughts from another place is probably the most interesting thing on the planet. That is definitely a shortcoming of the American lifestyle, but I’ll leave that rant for another post.

What’s keeping me from just doing it? Comfort and the feeling I’ll be giving up so much, in such a good spot, for a big mistake. It could be the biggest mistake or the greatest achievement of my life. The problem: I’m not good with risk. I’ve been calculated and conservative my entire life, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m trading the security of mediocrity for the potential for a life worth living. Any advice?

Marriage

My marriage is rocky. I need to put in some work. We were married too early and been together too long. Sometimes I think that is both a lucky thing and simultaneously the worst thing.

To make things worse: I met a Brazilian woman while I was out of town at dinner the other night. She is 30, interesting, educated, had an amazing accent, eccentric, and was of course beautiful. We hit it off really well, too well, and I developed a shameful crush for her – and she for me. Those elementary school feelings will quickly leave and luckily she is going back to Brazil and I will never see her again, but sometimes I feel like being married so young to a women I’ve known so long has lead to missed opportunities. That’s probably the voice of ignorance speaking, but I know it is partially true. Maybe that’s a blog for another time too.

My wife is great and almost any shortcomings in our relationship are my fault. My failure to accept her for her own personality, my failure to give her attention when needed, and my failure to not marry her if that was the case. I’ve thought about this many times and even if I wanted to I could never bring myself to leave her. It’s the Irish in me, I’ve been told, we will live with something and be unhappy forever if that’s what it takes.

The End

This is getting long and I haven’t even read over it to see if my stream of consciousness writing makes any sense what-so-ever. I feel a little better and if you have bothered to read this far I appreciate it.

Being a stay at home mom isn’t all fun and games…

Back when my wife and I first got married, we were like most any young couple. Money was tight and we struggled a bit to make it at times. I was fresh out of college with a degree that only merited a $27k a year salary and my wife was still in school and waiting tables.

Then she eventually got out of school and things leveled off a bit. We climbed up the financial ladder a little more and had our first child. Life was okay, and for most people this was the time where you settle in and live your mediocre version of the “American Dream” with two cars parked out front and watching the kids grow up as the years pass by.

It didn’t take long for that white picket fence American dream to lose its luster and I started working for more. Over time I grew my personal business more and went to grad school to get another degree that would help me get what I so desired- a change.

Somewhere along the way my wife got left behind. All she’s ever known or comprehended is the typical American life and I don’t think she quite understood what it was I was battling for. Did I want a bigger house? No. Did I want a new car? Hardly… I wanted opportunity. Opportunity to do whatever it is I felt like doing.

Then baby #2 came along, a pleasant but shocking surprise. Suddenly I feared that I would have to settle in and give up on this idea I had of chasing after these grand ideas fancied up while daydreaming in my cubicle or on long commutes to and from work. But instead, I just told my wife to quit her job…

Virtually all of our friends and family saw this as a noble gesture. I was creating the true American dream for my family. My wife barefoot and pregnant at home while I went off to bang on the door of corporate America and make a healthy, honest living for my family and someday send my two kids off to a fancy college. I quietly let them think that and let my wife think the world of me for giving her something very few other moms we knew had the opportunity to do- be at home with the kids.

The pitfalls of being a stay at home mom

Initially my wife was elated to be a stay at home mom. She never cared for her job or the field she worked in and was more than happy to call it quits. But then the tides slowly began to turn. Over the last year we have become more and more distant as our lives continue to diverge.

At first she would simply be upset that while she was home all day with the kids, changing diapers, dealing with the crying, cleaning up messes, I was out having nice meals with the guys over lunch break. Eventually even studying for school or dealing with personal clients became an issue. The pressure of dealing with the kids just kept building up more and more. And sadly, I was all but oblivious.

Over time it seems to only continually get worse. When I was still in grad school, finding time to study and read became hell on earth. Between fussy babies and a depressed wife, I never wanted something to be over so bad in my life. But I kept pushing ahead with my selfish ambition to go get what I wanted.

Then I got out of school and I took a great paying job, only it required me to travel, something I have always wanted to do. And so I drive a wedge further between my wife and myself.

Things come to a head

This morning I was walking to work and my wife asked me what I did last night. I’m working in Philly right now and I had taken a long walk into South Philly to try the original Philly cheesesteaks at Pat’s King of Steaks and Genos.

She almost immediately started yelling at me. Saying she never has time to do anything for herself. That when I’m home all I do is work, or do projects, or this… or that… It is all 100% true. But the story has another side. I work because that is what I do. I work. Someone has to keep the house fixed up, someone has to mow the grass, and someone has to earn a living. But my wife doesn’t see it that way. She just sees her and two kids that feel like chains around her neck.

So I give up. I told her to find a job and go back to work. I can’t make her happy, only she can. I’m also tired of feeling this deep guilt for simply enjoying the life I earned. Yes, she is at home with the kids night after night while I’m out exploring big cities and having fun. And no, it isn’t fair. But what can I do? Just stop? Go back to some subpar mediocre cubicle hell to make my wife feel better about her life?

Yes, it is selfish. I am selfish. But I earned what I have. I spent eight years in college, I built my own business to pay for college, and I put in all the long hours and hell of studying, reading, writing and researching to get here.

I have decided I can’t talk to my wife about my life anymore. I’ll simply leave the fun parts out and keep conversation during the week strictly family related. It all has to remain secret, only shared in little corners around the internet with strangers, like I am right now.

-Holden