The ultimate argument in the course of human events, whether personal, national, cultural, or political in nature has always been, "Do what I want or I will kill you."
Sucks huh? But the fact is it works like a charm and it doesn't have to be cool with anybody or fit anyplace into a neat world view or some fanciful Disneyland idea of a just universe. The meek may inherit the earth, but only after the strong have moved elsewhere and don't want it any more. Yeah, it's like that and it's always been like that. The pen is only mightier than the sword when the pen can convince a whole lot of swords to stand behind him.
When a person or culture approaches you, the opposition, with the commitment, willingness, and ability to use lethal force to get something done, and you do not have an equal or greater ability and willingness to respond in kind, then you do what they say or you die. Shake and spin and dance and bleat however you like, this has not and will not change. It is human history.
I bring all this up because I lately hear a lot of people talking about what they are willing to die for, as if this is somehow the ultimate sacrifice. Whether six feet of Arlington, or a green hippie funeral with the Grateful Dead playing in the background, we all get there eventually. We all end up dead whether we ever fought a battle, or took up a cause, or did anything meaningful with our time on this rock to make a difference about anything. Death is not a moral sacrifice, it is a certainty. We all have a ticket on that bus and we will all one day climb aboard whether we were ever committed to anything in our whole fucking lives or not. We may postpone it and few actually seek it, but we all get death in the end.
Killing, on the other hand, is a choice. You can easily go from one end of a human lifespan to the other without killing anyone at all. Most people manage to do it. At whatever point in life it occurs it requires an action and it requires a level of commitment. An enemy can make you dead, they cannot make you kill. People who die at the hands of others usually did not choose to do so. The people who killed them were the ones that made the choice and committed to a course of action.
The thing I notice is that when the entity that is willing to kill meets the entity that is only willing to die there isn't much difficulty in working out who gets to go home that night and fuck the prom queen. The meek in most cases inherit however much of the earth it takes to cover them up and not much more.
General George Patton, who was undeniably a crazed bloodthirsty son of a bitch, pointed out in a famous speech that you don't win by dying for your country. You win by making the other silly son of a bitch die for his country. Yes, not a pretty paradigm but it works. It isn't nice and it isn't cool and we don't get to sit around weaving hemp jewelry and waving a sign on a stick while we do it. Still I'd have to say it's fairly clear to me. If you tell me "I am ready to die for my beliefs" and your oppositions tells me "I am ready to kill for my beliefs" I may not be able to tell you who is right, but I can damn sure tell you who will be left.
When measuring a level of commitment I don't look at what people are willing to die for. Lots of people are willing to risk death rather than quit smoking, dying is something we all have to do eventually. When I am measuring a level of commitment I always ask "what are you willing to kill for?" In the end the measure of total commitment to an objective is not what I might give my life in pursuit of, but rather what I would take someone else's life in pursuit of.
Copied and edited from an ageist rant... less most of the ageism, plus some technical points and clarifications. Blame
Back then, in the 1950's and 60's in America, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled; without being crushed, melted, and reformed, which costs more than washing.
Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. A lot of that clothing got made. Things got fixed, and you could fix them because they were made to be fixed.
We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. We valued our appliances, tools, and cars and we took good care of them... and they lasted.
We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.
- The VW Bug, best selling car of /all time/ was massively popular then and got better than 30 miles per gallon, 36mpg was the stated value!
- The Model A ford (and there were a lot of them still on the road in 1950) got 25 to 30 miles per gallon. Of course, it was a death trap, and had a top speed (if you were crazy) of 65 mph.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. err... actually, it turns out that a high mpg car is probably greener than mass transit
Even a Camry (rated at 28mpg) gets very close to beating the bus on average. Rail is about twice as efficient as a car, IF the train happens to go where you need it. But still, Bikes beat everything but walking, and keep you in shape... if the cars don't kill you.
Locally grown food was the rule rather than the exception. In most metropolitan areas, the grocery van (and the milk, and bread and everything else) came to your house once or twice a week, serving everyone in the neighborhood in ONE trip, instead of each person driving to a different store at different times.
In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us.
Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Your clothes dryer puts about 4.4 pounds of carbon into the air /every single load/.
Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaper#Debate There are pluses and minus either way, but in a multi-child family, with a diaper washing service, cloth diapers do use less energy, if more water.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. Kids read comics and books and they played outside. Remember outside kids? It's that thing that goes by the windows of your car. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.
When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water.
Ok, look... I'm not saying we should go back to the 1950's in every way. We've made a lot of progress since then: Women are treated a LITTLE better... and now have the opportunity to work all day and THEN "make" dinner and "care" for the kids and husband. Safety is much improved; these days you can be a complete idiot and yet survive. Corporations are well regulated which prevents pollution and economic collapse. And I do think life is more open now, more connected and more examined. Our technology is worlds ahead of what it was; the intertubes give us access to information we don't need almost as fast as we ignore it.
But we tossed the baby out with the bath water. Frugality, and with it sustainability, went into the ditch. We got lazy, fat, and stupid. Looking back at what was /right/ in the 1950's might do us some good today.
Try this command at the prompt:
echo test 2>test.txt
One might expect to see nothing on the console and then if you entered:
you might expect to see "test 2"
In fact, you see "test" on the console right after the echo and text.txt is empty!
What happened? The 2> is redirecting any error messages from echo test to the file test.txt. It is being interpreted as a stderr redirect and that leaves no > to send "test" into the file. Experienced programmers won't be shocked by that, although I expect you might be tripped up by it as I was. In my case, I was using a web script to build a batch file that a user could download and execute after filling out a form on the web page; it's an easy / tricky way to build a "program" on the fly which is customized by the user. Some of the user input would end up being echoed into a file on the local machine. When the users happened to enter anything ending with a number, it caused the script to fail... something I didn't see comming because I didn't realze what they would enter.
Now, how to avoid it? LOL this one is what surprised me:
(echo test 2)>test.txt
Can you believe it? That actually works! So the moral of the story is that if you are going to be echoing things to a file, you should probably enclose all of those echo commands in parenthesis as a habit.
Anyway, I was just amazed to have learned that little bit after all these years, and thought I should share it incase someone else finds it useful. Yeah... right.
If freedom is freedom of choice, then we are more free in a huge mega super market on the aisle with hundreds of different types of cereal, or tampons, or whatever.
If freedom is freedom of time to our selves, then we are more free in Trader Joes or the corner 7-eleven with one type of toilet paper and one type of cat litter.
Your freedom to swing your arm stops where my nose begins but my freedom to kill you depends on my countries leaders deciding what evil you are up to, and our incompetence at finding any better way of stopping you from doing harm to us and ours. The lines are not always clear, but they are crystalline in a time of action, following orders, executing the protocol, performing the function we have practiced for again and again. Persons defending personal freedom.
When I joined the Navy, my father asked me how I could give up my freedom. I said I was happy to give up my freedom to go hungry, to be without medical care, and my freedom to find a way to support my fiancé… which I had not found any way to do before I talked to a recruiter. She was free to leave me after I joined.
When I was in the Navy, I knew when I was free (on leave) and when I was not (on duty) and I could manage both; enjoy either. Now, as a “bread winner” I am never free of the drive to earn more, and guilt follows every moment away from my pursuit of the dollar. Abuse victims find freedom from the abuse in their minds, but there is no freedom from our own tyranny.
It’s been said that a King has more freedom than a slave and then it’s been said that a slave has more freedom than a king.
It’s a silly little word, with no apparent meaning. And yet I’ve fought for it, without understanding; and comprehend it less with each passing day. It eludes me as I age. Will I eventually loose my freedom to live? Or find freedom some day in death?
Am I free to stop thinking about this non-sense and get back to work?