Owning my own content

14 years ago, I started a blog (this one, in fact). At that time, it was kind of normal to blog about things. Life, opinions, whatever.

Nowadays, almost nobody does that anymore because social media. I left social media a few years ago, primarily because it’s a big waste of time. But also it started to occur to me that anything I say there can be used against me, and that if it’s unpopular enough or offends the wrong person, it’s even likely to be removed.

Outside of social media, there are hosted blogs, such as medium, but these suffer from the same issues — at the end of the day, your content can be censored because it displeases the platform’s moderators.

So now that I’m saying things again, it’s back to 14 years ago. That means my posts will not have access to social media network effect explosion potential. People will have to actually want to come here and read things. It also means I had to go through the work of getting this blog set up self-hosted, and I have to spend time and money to maintain that.

Yet, it also means that I get to say what I want. The content belongs to me. And readers know that I’m not censored.

In 2020, this is the right trade.

War is always a cost to the people

We do have one example in history where there was a dramatic cut in spending. It was after World War II. Because the spending was so high during the world war– it was cut almost 60% and people worried, the Keynesians said “oh we have to have more jobs programs, more jobs programs”. But by that time the malinvestment and the debt had been liquidated, the soldiers came home we didn’t have work programs and guess what, the taxes were cut as well and that was finally when the depression ended. It ended not when the war started, but when it ended. 

So don’t ever be tricked into believing that so many argue — because they use this as an excuse, they say that when you’re in a depression or bad times the only thing that will get you out of the depression is a war. That is absolutely not true. Don’t ever listen to them because morally that’s evil and that is the wrong thing to ever try, because war is always a cost to the people.

– Ron Paul in this video

On not taking sides

I’ve donated to Ron Paul, and now I get letters all the time from right-wing organizations asking for money.

The latest one is Judicial Watch, some organization saying that we have to fight Obama’s “rampant corruption” and “compulsive secrecy”.. which rings some bells related to the Bush administration, but they certainly don’t mention that.

I guess they’re playing off people’s pre-programmed fears, ones that were implanted from years of veg’ing in front of the TV.

But these organizations don’t comprehend me at all, so their battle cries don’t begin to reach me. To me, the Ron Paul movement isn’t about Right vs Left, and it’s certainly not about “ousting Obama at all costs”, an attitude which by definition leads to sacrificing everything you stand for. It’s not even about winning an election, or having political power.

It’s about reshaping the conception of government. It’s about remembering that government serves the people, not the other way around. It’s about being humble enough to speak out for the truth, whether or not it agrees with one’s own political “profile”. In fact, if Ron Paul weren’t willing to call out the massively erroneous and hypocritical record of the Republican party, I wouldn’t support him.

In spite of what it may look like to these right wing organizations, I’m not a republican (or democrat), conservative (or liberal), on the right (or the left); I’m beyond even a “libertarian” at this point.

So many of these organizations want to make it out like Us vs Them. Our team versus theirs. Blue vs Red. A horse-race. Or an “epic struggle”. Whatever.

I won’t take sides, because I have no enemies; I have only friends. We’re all on the same team, we all ultimately want the same things; the challenge is not to win power, or even change people’s minds.. but to uncover the truth, to reveal how we’re all on the same page in the first place.

today is Consititution day!

Today, September 17th, is Constitution Day. So I decided to read the Constitution! Go figure.

I was reading through Article 2 (that’s the part about the executive branch of government — the presidency), and all of a sudden I got to the end. I was like “what, that’s it?!” Indeed, there’s relatively little written about the presidency, and the powers enumerated are quite restrictive.

Here’s the abbreviated version of Article 2:

Section 1. There’s a President. He gets elected, he gets paid, and he swears to uphold the Constitution.

Section 2. He’s in charge of the army, he gets to pardon people and make treaties with Senate consent. He also appoints Senators to fill vacancies.

Section 3. He is a congressional cheerleader: he delivers the State of the Union, and makes policy recommendations. He executes the laws that Congress wrote.

Section 4. He can be impeached.

And that’s it!

So during presidential debates, all this talk about this policy and that policy (“here’s how I’ll fix health care!”), running the economy (“check out my business credentials!”), and starting wars (“I’ll make the world safe for democracy!”); all this talk is fluff in light of the actual powers of the Constitution. The president gets to cheerlead Congress on policy, but other than that he only has the right to enforce the laws that already exist.

So like, if you haven’t read the Constitution recently, you might give it a read. It’s really quite short and accessible.

Edit: Whoops! I forgot article 1, section 7: the president gets to veto laws.

What’s at the intersection of vegan, yoga, and political liberty?

In a word: ahimsa.

Ahimsa is the principle of non-violence towards all living things. Adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle is one of the strongest statements of ahimsa a person can make, wherein one refuses to participate in any action which is connected to violence towards a living being.

Not all yogis are vegan. However, those that are not tend to gloss over the teaching of ahimsa, or insist (incorrectly) that adopting a vegan diet would be himsa (harmful) towards oneself. One prominent school of yoga that puts forth veganism as the true statement of ahimsa is the Jivamukti school. Many others gloss over or do not understand the immense suffering caused by the dairy industry, and so recommend a vegetarian diet that includes milk.

Ron Paul is apparently not a vegan. However, he understands the principle of ahimsa, at least as it applies to politics:

One rule you have to follow: and that is, in order to make the world a better place, you have to reject the notion that you use violence and force to do it. You have to do it through persuasion. If we want to change the world, if we want to change the Middle East, if we want to change Africa, you do it by spreading ideas and through persuasion. But the most important thing we do is do our job here, set an example, so others would want to emulate us, and that should be our [goal].

 – Ron Paul (from this video)

There’s a reason for all this. It’s not just because somebody handed down the rule of ahimsa from on high. The reason to follow ahimsa is because it works. In the realm of politics, if you try to make the world a better place by force and occupying other countries, you get the “blowback” effect, namely, you create resentment and anger towards the occupying country. In the realm of inner peace and meditation practice, you cannot find peace on the inside without living peacefully on the outside, i.e. a vegan lifestyle.

Intelligence as a heirarchy

There is a funny idea out there that intelligence is a heirarchy: There are more intelligent beings and less intelligent beings. This idea is just a harmless idea on it’s own. But, sometimes it’s combined with the idea that the “more intelligent” beings ought to dictate to the “less intelligent” beings how to live their lives. Before we accept this notion, it’s worth stepping back a minute to see what sort of ground we’re standing on with our notion of “more intelligent.”

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tossed in

I feel like I was tossed into this world unprepared. I was taught by my surroundings that I had to earn the right to be myself. Forced to go to school or face grave consequences, scared into going to college or face grave consequences, scared into working hard for money so that someday I can actually be free to be myself! It’s struggle, struggle, fight, and win. Except it’s all wrong.

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