Dishonest or Forgetful?

When one finds oneself in a hole, one ought to stop digging. The esteemed Gary North has put in an order for more shovels. In his most recent article on bitcoins, he nearly pulls a muscle patting himself on the back for predicting the demise of bitcoin. With the recent disappearance of the folks at MtGox, Mr. North along with many other detractors that he told us that this house of cards was going to come crashing down.
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A Biblical Defense of Open Carry

I recently received my new Blackhawk Serpa holster, and have moved from an inside-the-waistband (IWB) to an outside-the-waistband (OWB) carry. Obviously, wearing heavy sweaters and winter jackets still allows me to conceal my handgun most of the time, I did get some raised eyebrows at church this past Sunday when the jacket came off and it was clear I was making no attempt to hide my gun.

Carrying openly was no accident. I’ve made the conscious decision to start visibly carrying, after thinking through the various elements involved. I figured I might as well write up my thinking, as it might help encourage others who are sitting on the fence.

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I’ve Been a Changin’, As You Can Plainly See

I’m sitting in my office smoking a fat bowl and watching Doug Wilson’s Q&A session on cannabis, posted soon after the news that Colorado and Washington passed their constitutional referendums allowing the recreational use of cannabis. Pastor Wilson’s position is not new… a few years ago (2008?), he wrote a position paper entitled “One Toke Over the Line”, (conspicuously missing from the original site) arguing that there is no place for cannabis consumption in the Christian life. If there’s one thing we can be grateful for, it’s that Pastor Wilson has consistent positions, and in last year’s video, he makes some of the same arguments as in that position paper.

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Waking from a Dream

I am finally home from this last trip, and getting myself acclimated to normal life. A few friends have commented to me that they cannot imagine what’s it like to travel like I do, so I thought I would try to give you a glimpse.

Imagine falling asleep knowing that you will dream for two weeks. Once in that dream, you find yourself in new, exotic locations where you’ve never been before. You meet characters with whom you spend every moment interacting. Like in a dream, things happen that don’t make complete sense. You leave your bed unmade, and come back and it’s made. You’re eat at restaurants for every meal, even though such activities are economically unfeasible. You wear expensive suits and drive expensive cars, tip porters for carrying your bags and bartenders for mixing your drinks.

Your “real life” friends no longer exist, but are replaced with new and interesting friends. These friends are from exotic places like Washington and Tokyo and London and Cambridge. They have strange accents and interesting stories. You talk with them about computers and lobster and saunas and Scotch. Like Alice in Wonderland, you find jenever labeled “drink me” that makes you twenty feet tall and pâté labeled “eat me” that shrinks you to nothing. You share your discoveries with your new friends, and their excitement fuels and motivates you to discover even more.

All the friends in your dream are dreaming as well, of course. They claim to have their own waking worlds with families and mortgages and water bills, but those worlds are so far away. Occasionally during the dream, we remember the people from the waking world, but most of the time, we enjoying the dream together, waiting for that next experience around the corner.

But, with each day in our dream, we know that will soon wake up. We look forward to the waking with a very real conflict. We miss the waking world, with the real people we love and cherish, and we know that each moment dreaming is a moment away from them. Yet, our friends in our dream world have become just as real, and we know that when we wake up, everything will be gone except for the memories. No friends, no food, no fast cars.

So, on the last night before the flight takes us back to the world of reality, we desperately look for ways to hold on to the dreams. We promise we’ll find ways to keep in touch, and we make those promises honestly. However, all dreams fade quickly upon awakening, and we quickly forget the promises we made.

This is probably for the best.

Travel and the Absence of Intimacy

I’m wrapping up a two week stint in The Hague, Netherlands, and I’ve been thinking through why this trip seems to be a lot more difficult for my psyche than most of my other trips. The coworkers that I’ve been traveling with have been fantastic, and there has been no shortage of funny discussions, mostly regarding random contrasts between U.S. and European culture (and British culture, which is entirely its own thing.)

I am starting to appreciate, though, how much intimacy in relationships and conversation is so vitally important in maintaining my own personal sanity, and how much it’s missing in my daily conversations. When I say “intimate”, I don’t mean romantic or sexual, although clearly those components would be part of certain intimate conversations, but in this case, I mean the act of conversation with trust established and our guard down.

I am very blessed to have family and friends where intimacy is so engrained as to be invisible. I have a wife, brothers, and men in the church who taken on various roles in my life, willing to listen to my rants and weaknesses, and able to share their own with me. I’ve become so familiar with that blessing that I don’t realize how necessary it is until I’m removed from it.

When I am removed during business travel, relationships that on the surface seem similar after a while seem dull and colorless. The temptation appears to polish the dull relationships by fomenting intimate relationships with coworkers, and thus the danger presents itself. I realize I’m starving, and fear becoming ravenous. In order to protect myself, I force myself to distance myself, and start counting the days until I’m able to fly home.

I think this is why alcohol has become so intrinsic to business travel. Alcohol allows us an excuse to form temporary intimate relationships with coworkers or other local acquaintances without having a basis of trust. For the cost of a few dollars, we can consume a magic elixir that temporarily removes the established social mores that define our normal daily relationships. For that short period of time, we can fulfill the need that we have to share ourselves openly, and to experience others doing the same. We begin to emotionally undress ourselves and enjoy seeing others do the same. Of course, the magic wears off in the morning, and there is always the awkwardness of putting our masks (and clothes) back on. We deal with the physical sickness, but secretly reminisce and look forward to the next time.

There’s no substitution for good relationships, and when you have them, there are like a good, satisfying pantry, always able to provide strengthening meals. It can sometimes be difficult to appreciate the blessing while in the midst of it, but the absence is painfully obvious when it’s gone.

A Defense of Bitcoin

Gary North wrote up an article today titled Bitcoins: The Second Biggest Ponzi Scheme in History. Having bought into the bitcoin “craze” about a year ago, I feel obligated to write back a response to some of the misconceptions he propagates in his article. Those misconceptions are not unique to Mr. North; others have expressed the same concerns, and they are relevant enough to deserve a thoughtful response.

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Open Source Ecology and the Increase of Knowledge

I feel like I need to defend myself before I can even start writing. As a disclaimer, I do believe in capitalism and competition, but I also believe that there are bigger goals in life than maximum profit. This is one of them.

First, go watch this video to see a quick overview of what the Open Source Ecology people are doing.

This was the original goal of the patent and copyright systems. If you look back at the U.S. Constitution, you find a short section referred to as the copyright clause:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

Intellectual property is a recent idea. Before copyrights and patents, knowledge was protected by simply not telling anyone. So, if you had an innovative means to distill alcohol, fold metal, or make violins, you would protect the secrets and sell the results. The reason for this is pretty clear… if people were to make public the methods they spent time and labor engineering, others could profit without putting in the same effort. Because of this, many secrets were lost over time, and even today have not been fully rediscovered.

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Atlas Shrugged – Chapter 1, Part 1

After my (not-so-) recent post on Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged, I decided to start reading through the book again to write a real critique. I started writing this over two years ago, but got distracted by things that seemed important at the time, but now seem rather trivial.

My plan is to go through the book, chapter by chapter, and spend time writing about the various issues presented from a Biblical perspective. As I said, not all of Rand’s ideas are trash, and I did want to give credit where she does convey truth, accidental as it may be. Continue reading

Check Out “Beyond My Front Door”

Anwar is a good friend of mine, and probably my best travel partner. When my family was considering moving to Japan, he took time out of his schedule to trek all the way to northern Japan to meet up with my landlord. I’m sure he had an ulterior motive, since his addiction to world travel is clearly evident from the first time you meet him.

On that trip, after taking care of the boring logistics, he and I set out by train with just a rail pass and the faintest semblance of a plan. Our travels reached a surreal peak when we found ourselves on a two hour ferry from Aomori to Hakodate enjoying the sights of the fishing boats on Mutsu Bay.

Through trips to Tokyo, Japan, Bendigo, Australia, and London, England, we’ve always found our common passion for travel and food would lead us on the best adventures, and I always enjoyed them immensely.

He’s taken a leave of absence from the company, off on what seems to be his best adventure yet, and I’m looking forward to seeing his updates. Check out his page, Beyond My Front Door.

Back on the Horse

I haven’t posted in a while. It’s been a long time. I think Facebook might have done some permanent damage to my ability to be able to read and write for longer than 30 seconds, leading me to consider to suspend my Facebook activities and try focusing more on reading and writing more lengthy material.

I have been looking back through my old blog posts, and see a lot of material that I really wanted to continue, including expanding on my previous article on Ayn Rand, written over two years ago. Where does the time go?

I’m going to commit to writing at least one blog post a week. If you don’t see something from me, please encourage me to write. Even if you don’t care for my writing, just encourage me to do it for the sake of my personal growth. Like I said, my brain is getting fat on the empty calories of Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit.

Self Promotion is so annoying!

The internet is great and all, but sadly, too many people can go load up WordPress, start a blog, and call himself a writer, or fire up their iMac, record their inane ramblings, and call herself a musician.

There’s no gatekeepers to distribution anymore, and while that can be a good thing, it has horrible unintended consequences, in that the masses that are consuming this drivel are idiots who don’t know how to pronounce “vice versa“. People are idiots, and “success” is defined as anything that appeals to those idiots. The folly of self-promotion is the idea that we need to appeal to mentality of those idiots.

States’ Rights and Cannibas

It looks like California is ready to pass a law allowing local governments the authority to decriminalize and even tax marijuana distribution. Of course, the federal government has already begun huffing and puffing about how the law will not impact them at all, and they will continue to make arrests in the state. Their threats don’t really have much force, since they currently make about 5% of marijuana arrests in California.

The bigger issue is whether this is going to be the crack in the dam, inspiring legalization campaigns around the country. My interest is going to be in how the recent 10th amendment folks are going to react. We’ve been hearing a lot about nullification and states rights regarding “Obamacare”, but are these folks really principled federalists, or just whiners? Are they going to apply their newfound love for constitutional principles to issues they might not agree with? After all, it’s the commerce clause in the constitution that the federal usurpers use to defend control over drug laws and health insurance.

So, I put this as a challenge to the “tenthers” out there. Are you going to be consistent, or are you going to show that your “principles” were mere whitewashed pragmatism?

Identifying a Problem Does Not Validate Your Solution

So, I made an odd discovery and a big purchase a few months ago. While on vacation in the Poconos, I was digging through a collection of books at an antique store in Tunkhannock, PA, and I found a first edition, first print of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. It wasn’t cheap, but I think it was worth more than the store was selling it for, so I bought it. If it doesn’t sell, I can at least use it for an expensive door stop.

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