I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

1984 Pt 2

I was preparing to make a reply to a commenter this morning, and figured that it merited its own post. Ferdinand Freud posted:

Everything takes longer. 1984 has come and gone, but I still think we are on the slippery slope to something resembling the book. Think of what a Founding Father would make of gun laws, the dept. of education, Obamacare, etc. How big a jump is it from demanding nutrition labels on food (check) to outlawing food (trans fats, check) to prescribed exercise & diet? Yes, some people will always struggle against such, but the Soviets and Pol Pot had a solution for those folks.

Overall I agree. The nation we live in today is not that of our founding fathers, nor is it one they would be pleased with. The societal frameworks seem already to be in place for many of the programs and situations of the book, as I commented on in my earlier post. Yes, totalitarian regimes have methods of maintaining power.

The point at which I start to disagree in the nitty-gritty of the situation is in the jump. It is far easier for a government to remove something, or require a corporate action, as in the case of the banned foods and nutrition labels, than it is to force action on the part of the citizenry. Philosophically, the jump is small, and I wouldn't put it past our government to try it. Practically however, it becomes more difficult. For the average American, banned trans-fats and nutrition labels aren't particularly important. They require no effort on their part, and while perhaps inconvenient, it's not a deal-changing situation. Mandating active participation in uncomfortable actions forces the populace to exit their state of entropy, which is understandably difficult. The jump from passivity to activity therefore is a large one, and the society of 1984 requires activity.

On a similar note of altering entropy, our current governmental structure is not able to effectively create the described world. Being non-totalitarian and partisan, things get bogged down easily, and no one viewpoint can override. It is wonderfully inefficient and powerless. Changing power structures to a totalitarian system generally requires one cataclysmic event or other prompting factor. In 1984, it was atomic war followed by revolution. In Pol Pot and the USSR's case, it was revolution due to increased class consciousness as a result of technological communication advances (this may end up being it's own post later). I can't see any factor today that would serve as sufficient catalyst for a radicalist revolution. It might have happened after the financial collapse, it might have happened after 9/11, but as it didn't, I have to wonder what could serve as sufficient motivator.

Another problem with revolution is simple. Those most dissatisfied and fed up are conservatives. Additionally, liberals tend to be somewhat less familiar and comfortable with the tools of revolution than conservatives. Looking around today, the group gaining the most ground is the Tea Party, on a platform that is far more conservative than anything existing in today's government. If we are swinging any direction, it's away from totalitarian socialism.

One last set of troubles that are likely to at least delay any attempt at totalitarianism is the lack of personality for it. In order to have concentrated totalitarian power, there must be a wielder, whether fictional or real is unimportant. The first problem with this is that modern political philosophy is generally dependent on the 'moral high ground' unabashedly absent from 1984. O'Brien openly states that they are about maintaining power, which is an untenable motivator in today's society.

The other main problem is that I can do what I'm doing now. The sheer wealth of individual opinions on any topic in the net makes it very difficult for any one personality to emerge dominant. Even in the gunbloggosphere, Tam may be one of the most read and respected bloggers, but she cannot be said to be representative of the culture as a whole. There are so many voices criticizing and commending the assorted views of everyone, and information exchange is so easy, that there is no perceived need for a single representative. This is truly the time of self-representation.

Do I think there are no lessons to be learned from 1984? Not even remotely. All I say is that the situation as described is unlikely in our modern world. Things aren't as bad as the associations would say.

As an aside, a brief note on commenting. I very much want to engage with my readers, so commenting is strongly encouraged. Occasionally I will make a full post over a point, but this should be seen more as calling attention to the dialogue than attempting to put an end to it. In other words, I hope you will continue the conversation Freud.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Despite it being a major dint in my conservative credibility, I had not read 1984 until the last couple weeks. (It took me that long because class and assorted vagaries of life got in the way of reading)

Having read it now, just a few comments I wanted to make.

First and foremost, I don't think that the world predicted in the book is possible. Not because of any particular morality on the part of our governing bodies, but because the American people are unlikely to tolerate such measures. As problematic as modern public education is, and as slanted as the media is, enough people maintain enough awareness of the principles of proper governance to prevent a total hijacking of our thought. Add to that the presence of enough new-age philosophers and pseudo-intellectualists among the young left, and the notion of invalidating memory and the truth of the past is unlikely even among liberals.

That being said, there are lots of disturbing parallels. To the telescreen monitoring of everyday life, we have the recent OnStar outrage. To the daily regimen of exercise and health, we have the assorted mandates of restaurant service concerning salt and the like, as well as Obamacare. To the Ministry of Love, we have people interrogated so long that they confess to crimes they did not commit, as well as Guantanamo. To the Ministry of Plenty, we have a redefinition of unemployment to match promised rates under Obama. To the Ministry of Peace, we have two apparently unending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the newer conflicts in Libya and company. To the Ministry of Truth we have a liberal media entirely willing to prevaricate, disseminate and obfuscate until finding the truth becomes nigh impossible. Even the thought police can be seen in glimmers from recent DHS publications about right wing extremism.

Societally, the parallels are less cut and dried, but there nonetheless. Looking at 'Great' Britain especially, we see a culture that has given up on the notion of personal freedom and responsibility. In the US too, many people are choosing to be dependent on the beneficence of the government. For all the apparent malfeasances of the federal government, the outrage of the general populace stays low, and the problems run relatively uncontested. People are encouraged to turn in their fellows without evidences, even within their own families. The broken minded sheep that comprise Oceanic society don't exist persay in our world, but doublethink is not a particularly foreign concept.

Despite the year 1984 having come and gone without any such drastic changes, the fundamental messages and concerns of the book stay valid. Nothing in modern society or government matches the particular horror of the situation described, but the parallels are there, enough so to be concerning. We are still at the point where idealogical shifts are possible on a compressed timeline, and avoiding these issues is quite possible. It will require some degree of active work.

In lighter topics, I should hopefully be able to borrow a camera tomorrow and get some photos of the reef for your enjoyment. Considering also that the next book on my 'must read' list is Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia, my next book post should be somewhat lighter.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Vicious Circle 109

Many of you if not all of you at this point know about the insanity that is Vicious Circle, run by Alan at snarkybytes. Last night's show had a first time appearance by a blogger.


Go take a listen here: http://snarkybytes.com/ViciousCircle/?p=668 and be warned that brain cells may not escape intact.

Friday, September 23, 2011

New Digs

So, here's the new place. What do you think?

In other news, I am making the blogroll reciprocal, so if you link me, let me know in a comment or email.

Changing Perspectives

Despite expecting this to some degree, I am still occasionally taken aback by the differences between Dallas and Chicago. Most are minor and of little interest, like people complaining about 70 degrees as being too cold, but a few have caught my attention.

I can be a conservative and not get ostracized, or even remembered as 'that conservative guy.' In Government this morning, when the professor asked the perspective of the lefty progressives in the room, three people made noncommittal statements. When he polled the conservatives, far more people spoke up and entered the conversation. In Chicago, it would have been quite the opposite. All I can assume then is either the balance is legitimately shifted that far, or the campus conservatives just have louder voices.

The other area near and dear to me that I've noticed a change in is firearms. Yesterday I had someone say to me "yeah, both my parents have ccw, it's just part of being in Texas," which I found heartening. Due to a mix of being on a college campus and not knowing what to look for, I haven't been able to definitively say I've seen someone carry, but I'm pretty sure on a couple cases, especially involving Hawaiian shirts.

Every pawn shop around here has at least a few guns, and the Walmart is loaded for bear.

In the same conversation as the one quoted above, a fellow Illinoisian tried to make the claim that assault weapons were ridiculous, and you wouldn't shoot a deer with an assault weapon, to which someone replied that they had. Hunting is part of the fabric of existing down here, even in the more urban areas of Dallas, and the associated weaponry is just taken as is.

The one strange aspect to that last is that most of my friends actually know very little about guns. They have grown up with them, shot them, and been around them, but couldn't tell you what the difference between a bolt-action and semi-auto rifle is. When I asked the same friend I keep mentioning what rifle she has, she didn't know, not even the caliber.

I suppose it's just a side effect of living around them. People start to take them for granted. Growing up in Chicago, firearms were something of a taboo, and something entirely outside the culture. As such, much of my interest ended up being academic. I found them interesting because they were partially foreign, and there was so much to know about them. The perspective here says 'eh, it's a gun. I've got a couple.' and doesn't care beyond that. I can't quite decide which I like more.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Marine tanks....

Not of the Abrams variety, but the salty kind. My graduation present from my parents is a work in progress at this point, a nano-reef aquarium. I ordered the tank and other components two weeks ago, and to my surprise, found that earlier this week I was set to add corals to the tank.

Under normal reef setup, you have to wait upwards of a month for the live rock to 'cure.' Live rock is old pieces of dead coral and rock that have been coated with a layer of microorganisms and dirt, providing biological filtration for the tank. When purchasing live rock, most of the time it has been shipped dry, and much of the needed material has died. As such, one must put the live rock in water for a while to rebuild the filtration.

I purchased mine locally, which had the twin benefits of being able to pick and choose, and being thoroughly pre-cured. It is beautiful stuff, with hard coraline plaque algaes of assorted colors coating it. I can't get a picture that adequately shows the colors, especially since my camera died, but once I can, I will share.

After I saw the tiniest of cycles lasting all of two days, the rock was ready to take corals and other critters. After a couple more days monitoring, I started with a peppermint shrimp, a couple hermit crabs, and three snails. All of them have been doing quite well, wandering around and eating loose material from the rocks. The peppermint shrimp has the added benefit of eating Aiptasia, or nuisance anemones, of which I had a couple in with the live rock.

A couple days ago now, I took the first major jump and added corals. The manager at Aquatic Design Aquariums, which I heartily recommend by the by, helped me select a few hardy, attractive corals, gave me a very fair price, then knocked off ten dollars for a first tank. Right now I have two mushroom corals, a blue and a purple, a kenya tree coral, two different types of Zoanthus polyp, and the prize of the tank, a single head of frogspawn coral.

There are also a few patches on the live rock that look like they might be corals, and two that I know are. One is a fairly beat up cabbage leather coral that is making a nice recovery. The other is some variety of Acropora that I bought apparently dead, but woke up this morning. I'm not sure if I can keep that one alive, as they are fairly high maintenance and generally too difficult for a small tank, but I hope it lives. I may have lost one mushroom that kept getting blown around by the current from the filter, but I've got it secured now, so I'm hoping it'll come back.

All that's left to go into the tank are a couple more corals, another shrimp, and a fish. Hopefully I'll have those ordered within the week.

Overall, things are going very well. I am pleased.

This has been a remarkably painless introduction to marine tanks. Whether it will stay as such remains to be seen.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Remember. Not in the pansy way the media takes nowadays, 'how did YOU feel that day, what were YOU doing?' but proper. Remember the people who don't have a today because of 19 sick godforsaken pigs. Remember what they tried to do to our country. Remember that for as long as we live in fear and allow our government to whittle away our liberties out of fear, they won.

I don't like losing.

It's an easy thing to win. Remember, and grow up.

I will not forgive and I will not forget.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


This is likely to not be particularly PC. If you offend easily, go away now.

In a few days, it will be one decade since a small group of God-forsaken bastards tried to run my country into the ground. I was eight years old, and remember sitting under a blanket watching the footage repeating. It didn't really make sense at the time. I thought they were just trying to kill people.

Ten years later it does. In many senses, those lowest pieces of shit I can imagine succeeded. For years, people would turn and stare at a hijab or turban passing on the street. We entered into two apparently unending wars. We have had encroachment after encroachment on our civil liberties in the name of our protection.

We forgot.

We forgot what it was they were trying to destroy. They wanted a weak America, a crippled America. They wanted a people living so thoroughly in fear that they would roll over and disappear. More than killing Americans, they wanted to kill America.

Tell me, how many foundational American principles have been violated in the last ten years?

Tell me, how many of your enumerated rights can you really count on?

Tell me, are you safer in your home because of all these things?

Tell me, if they hit us again, could we take it?

Buildings don't matter. People Matter. Ideas matter. Freedom matters.

only matters so long as we don't succumb, and we don't forget. So long as we don't allow our America to die by the wayside, victim to its own timidity. Do not let them destroy us. Buildings don't matter. America does.

Remember, or they won.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Pawn Shop Thoughts

I enjoy wandering into pawn shops. Any number of interesting things can be found in them, including the occasional deal.

Today when one of my friends was getting a haircut, I wandered next door into the pawn shop. Their prices were, to put it bluntly, ridiculous, (as new prices for decidedly not new items) but it was entertaining nonetheless.

I get the sense that over time, pawn shops get a flavor to them. This particular one had two rooms, one of which was devoted entirely to old tools. The main room had one half devoted to assorted audio equipment and guitars. The back corner had the firearms, with a decent collection of shotguns, a fair few hunting rifles, one AR, and a paltry selection of handguns, including what I think may be a pawn shop necessity: a Llama.

They had a couple firearms that were either very antique or very fake, but the thing that caught my eye most was a walnut stock Browning A-bolt in 30.06. It had a relatively high end scope of make I do not recall right now. The most interesting thing to me though was that it had the air of a rifle someone didn't want to have to give up. The finish in places had been carefully redone, such that it was difficult to notice but for a slight change in the reflections.

It has some sort of story behind it. If I wasn't a poor college student from out of state living on a gun-free campus, I would have bought it. As is, I left it on the shelf.

I think I will make a habit of stopping into pawn shops when the opportunity arises. Dallas may be a fairly metropolitan, urban area, but there are still interesting shops in it, which I cannot say for Chicago. I'll post whenever I find something interesting. I'll take pictures when I can as well.