Category Archives: Philosophy

Does Being a Patriot Means Giving Up Freedom?

I aplogise again for the political content here. But this is just something we should all know. That way, later, when and if things come to it, we can’t really just say, “oh dear”.

This is not paranoia. This is reality. And though reality may at times be something we prefer to push off to the side as we pursue our hapiness, this particular reality cuts straight into what we have come to take for granted – that very right which is our pursuit of happiness.

We all know about the 9/11 disaster. And the controversial Pentagon disaster. We’ve all heard about the Patriot Act.

After this disaster, in just 45 days, and no public debate, and without even public debate or debate even within Congress, the Senate version was sent straight to the floor for a vote, with no discussion whatsoever. The House version ended up with a compromise, but it was thrown out by House leadership, and a version mirroring the Senate was passed. Neither discussion nor amendments were permitted. The Bush Administration impled that Congressional members who voted against it would be responsible for any subsequent disasters.

I certainly realize that fighting terrorist threats is a great challenge. But I also realize that there are many forces in the world. This act removes many of the great and fundamental aspects of being a US citizen, leaving us to wonder, just what, then, are we fighting to protect?

What does it do? Here are some highlights:

  • It defines “domestic terrorism” which means that organizations are subject to just about any surveillance technique, just plain harassment if an even minor “case” can be made, and even criminal action for political advocacy
  • The government can conduct secret searches and survelliance, compelling organizations and other people to provide just about any kind of information, about anyone, while at the same time “gagging” these people from even telling anyone what’s going on.
  • Just by saying it’s for “intelligence purposes”, the government no longer needs probable cause to start the criminal process against people

The Patriot Act has even resulted in the President creating a “military commission” that is not even part of the Judicial Branch that can detain non-US citizens indefinitely without any cause whatsoever, and find people guilty with no facts whatsoever – but only a 2/3rds majority vote of this military commission.

And worse – American Citizens can be picked up, and detained indefinately by the military without any cause, detained indefinitely, without any access to anyone, including lawyers and the American judicial process itself.

Now, Patriot Act II is on its way. Here are some of it’s more severe problems:

  1. Federal agents are immune to the consequences of any illegal surveillance they perform if they were acting on the orders of high level Executive Branch officials.
  2. Expanding nationwide search warrants so they do not have to meet even the broad definition of terrorism in the Patriot Act.
  3. It allows for the sampling and cataloguing of anyone’s genetic information without any reason, and without consent or knowledge.
  4. Terminates court-approved limits on police spying, which were initially put in place to prevent McCarthy-style law enforcement persecution based on political or religious affiliation.
  5. Permits surveillance of US citizens based on even a foreign government wanting it, even if we have no treaties with that government
  6. COMPANIES WHO CREATE TOXIC WASTE OR DANGEROUS CHEMICALS NO LONGER HAVE TO REPORT ANYTHING TO THE PUBLIC
  7. If a citizen is even lucky enough to get a trial, the defense attorney cannot even argue against evidence that is considered “secret”.
  8. Grand jury witnesses are barred from discussing their testimony with the public in any way.
  9. AMIERICAN CITIZENS CAN BE STRIPPED OF THEIR CITIZENSHIP if they provide support to any unpopular organization that our government has deemed terrorist even if they support only lawful aspects of that organization – this would allow our citezenry to be detained indefinitely as undocumented aliens. By the way, it also greatly broadens what is meant by a “terrorist” group, and what it means to be associated with one, or support one. It even goes so far as to say that a terrorist group does not have to be officially designated as a terrorist group to be considered a terrorist group.
  10. 15 new death penalities! 😉 And you just have to be associated…

Then we have our few of our silly little Constitutional protections:

1st Amendment: freedom of speech, relgion, assembly and press.

4th Amendment: freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

5th Amendment: no person shall be deprived of life, libery or property without due process of law.

6th Amendment: right to speedy public trail by an impartial jury, right to be informed of the facts of the accusation, right to confront witnesses and have the assistance of legal counsel.

8th Amendment: No excessive bail or cruel and unusual punishment.

14th Amendment: All people (citizens and non-citizens) are entitled to due process and the equal protection of the laws.

I’m writing this because of an article in the Seattle Times today:

The Federal judge strikes down part of Patriot Act as unconstitutional

Here are some of the highlights:

In his ruling, the judge called national security of “paramount value” and said the government “must be empowered to respond promptly and effectively” to threats. But he called personal security equal in importance and “especially prized in our system of justice.”

He noted that the Supreme Court recently said that a “state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation’s citizens.”

“Sometimes a right, once extinguished, may be gone for good,” Marrero wrote.

… The judge said the law violates the Fourth Amendment because it bars or deters any judicial challenge to the government searches, and violates the First Amendment because its permanent ban on disclosure is a prior restraint on speech.

If you’re interested in contacting your government representatives (or dare to do so… 😉 ) about the new “enhanced” Patriot Act coming up, the ACLU has a site devoted to it. This site asks our representatives to reconsider it. If you want a site that supports it, well, I don’t know of one, and don’t really feel like looking for one, but I’m sure there’s one out there.

Normality and Expansion

Maya - illusionWhen one looks at something – an object, an idea, a shared concept, or perhaps a Truth – so much of ourselves comes along with it.

When one looks at another person, listening to them speak or watching their motions – sensing their feelings and intentions – so much of ourselves comes along with it.

It is so easy to generalize in the interest of expediency or the self-preservation of what we hold true. It is so simple to laugh about or dismiss something that challenges something within ourselves, something that we claim as a Given – a prima facie definition that lends us comfort or security.

Yet we all experience those unsettling periods – sometimes lasting only moments – sometimes for hours or days – where all the world around us shifts into the Unreal, leaving us exposed to the terrifying vastness of all possibilities that exist beyond the small little shells we have constructed to contain ourselves within.

In our days of perfect order, where the mechanical certainty of well-ordered events and schedules are disrupted only to small degrees, we take comfort in the mundane. We improve ourselves, or gather more for ourselves by means of the tools and processes given us by the histories of our progenitors. Our long history of agreements, or rather, prevailing doctrines, guide us and help insure our prosperity by the adoption of normalized behaviour, and even moreso, by the adoption of normalized attitudes.

Religious people throughout history, bound together by common beliefs, have established institutions, both great and small, that revolve around canonical self-reference, if not, canonical solipsism. Depending upon how powerful any group was, the people not within that group must either fear or desmonstrate a “healthy respect”.

More recently, as priests are replaced with professors, a new canon has emerged. This canon, though in most ways a marvelous, powerful, and potent force toward the benefit of all, easily becomes twisted and exploited by those coming in contact with it just long enough to extract what information and resources they require to achieve their hedonistic objectives, and to promote doing the same to others in justification of their exploitations.

It’s an odd thing, this “modern” cannon – rife in detailed empiricism, rich in the artistic accomplisments of the spirit, seething in the techniques of human control – both individually and collectively, deluged with both contradiction and resonance, and framed immaculately in hope and despair – desire and self-sacrifice.

In such a glorious place, how do we so rigidly cling to the illusory safety of what we feel we want or need – when what we want or need changes, as quickly as a commercial? How is the ideal we maintain for ourselves, which most people cannot even fully grasp, yet knows, limits them to a role of unfulfilling minor achievements while, with certainty, so much more could be achieved.

From where does this fear originate – this self-doubt?

We tell ourselves that as we grow older, certain realities become apparent. We tell ourselves that we must make compromises – and begin making them – then the best of us wonder when we should stop compromising – but the majority never do.

Some rebel after hitting a breaking point, and nearly anything involving others becomes a compromise of themselves – regardless of whether that other is beneficial or detrimental. They will dominate, or perish.

Some learn that compromising is no big deal at all – it leaves them with what they really want, and they never have to put themselves on the line. They become the fertile ground for the powerful to root themselves within.

Some never compromise – not out of anger or rebellion – but because they know what is important. And these people move Outside, often in obscurity, simultaneously admired and disliked by others.

Considering the great mechanics of our many interconnected systems – the great collaboration of agreement, bound together by greed, that keeps our very lives functioning – the notion of Compromise is a key issue, as long as our souls survive.

Shiva - the danceAt universities, Philosophy departments dwindle, often relegated to the smallest corners and basements. Literature and arts, studied by only by the lazy and freaky people, is held in disdain by the majority – a simple requirement they must fulfill. The jocks, swarming to the schools of business and commerce to achieve the greatness they never could within their sport. And finally, the monsterous quantities of money flowing into the technical sciences where the lure of financial stability and the hypnosis of many little things can occupy most of our greatest minds.

And then the greater hordes that never even enter a univerisity — utterly untouched by the higher forces, who will work in regularity toward whatever ends are provided to them — live out their days in whatever entertainment or momentary undertaking catches their fancy. Ironically, these people often become the most judgemental and self-righteous of all, finding pureness and absolution in their simple choices just made to survive.

While each, no matter where, as they wake in the morning, can feel the humanity within their hearts – have felt the same pains and longings, to varying degrees, and have known great lonliness.

And so I look at this person I see in front of me, knowing so much about them, and so very little. All of us, just standing, or sitting, or laying, or fucking, or staring off into some place that is just our very own, where nobody else can go – all of us, just right here.

And I remember a commercial I saw a few nights ago, asking if I had ever felt detached, anxious or uneasy around others – if I found it difficult to focus on the tasks I needed to complete. If I felt tired, or withdrawn. And they offered me a pill.

Kali - death and awakeningThe cannons of Science, Psychology and Sociology, intermingling in this tiny capsule. Strange how they all grew out of Philosophy – and how Philosophy is dwindling. Perhaps this is the result of the marketplace – the Laws of supply and demand. Perhaps the canon of Philosophy has swallowed wholly its own tail.

I imagine a feeling – and confusion – of knowing something, and being uncertain in that knowledge. I see my friends and family, and I speak with strangers. I notice the common threads. I watch explore the strenghts and weaknesses, the certainties and the doubts.

A Philosopher visits a Psychologist, in weakness and despair, knowing full well the foundations of their disciplines, and asks a question – what is wrong with me? The psychologist answers with a question – forcing the philosopher to examine himself. Then the philosopher looks outside, back to the psychologist, asking if the answer is within him. The psychologist answers with a question, leading the philosopher back within. The philosopher grows angry, saying, is this all you have learned from us? This circular solipsism? Why should I not just see an Psychiatrist and get a pill? The psychologist says, this anger is good – now carry on.

In the functional sterility of interactions, no true risk is assumed. The egoism of knowing that you do not know, and the paralysis of fearing that you do not. And worst of all, the foolishness of believing that you do, or that it does not matter.

So I imagine Normality and Expansion – a pill and a sacrifice – a death and a rebirth. And I imagine a poem – a combination of words – words that each of us knows, words brought together and arranged in a way that we cannot understand — yet, somehow, we know and feel to be true.

Then I look at this person here, once again, seeing so many things. And he is looking at me, with all his histories, decisions, accomplishments and disappointments – all the joys he has discovered, all the fears – and all the tendernesses and strengths – his loyalties, and his betrayals. And then I compromise: I do not hug him, and cry – I smile, and shake his hand.

Krisha - wisdom, joy and love

Freedom vs. Security – Where Do We Draw the Line?

I must admit, I have not been following this issue closely. I think that is true for most people. But I’ve come to realize more and more that this issue is a fundamental one of our time – a determining factor on how we will continue to evolve together.

I have heard debates, mostly on talk radio, and a very few on the net, about the recent powers the US Government has granted itself after the terrorist attacks on September 11th. What I have heard should in no way be construed as what is actually out there – I have not researched the visibility of the issue at all.

It is very easy for us to make excuses and concessions related to the sacrifice of fundamental personal freedoms and rights in the interest of helping to avert any such similar, or even worse catastrophies in the future. To encourage, or allow to foster a more powerful police state that has the authority, if not the legal authority, to not only usurp our individual and collective Rights, but to commit acts of inhumanity in the purported interest of our larger well-being, is something to strongly consider – in the public eye and with the public’s voice.

Right now, people can be taken away, held indefinitely, given no legal counsel, interrogated in any number of ways, and even have evidence withheld that would exonerate them – all upon a whim, requiring no process whatsoever.

Is this happening? Yes.

We look back in history to our “McCarthy Era” and feel shame – how could we as a nation, and collectively as individuals, allowed such horrific things to occur? Well, it might be a good idea to start asking that question now, instead of waiting for historians to ask it decades from now – assuming they can (in a worst case scenario).

It’s strange – I’ve had friends say things jokingly on their cell phones about possible terrorist occurances, and how it might ruin their trip to the theater, or their dinner plans, then quickly qualify what they just said as a joke to appease the perfunctory judgements and actions of any listening, covert parties.

When considering what we’ve been told about airport security – how even joking can mean getting detained and questioned, even this speech on a cell phone may be cause for grave concern.

Today, while reading articles on security issues related to Linux, I ran across an article posted on the Free Internet Press:

Supreme Court Takes Up Guantanamo Case

It was the first I had learned that the issue was coming before the Supreme Court. This astonished me. I visited the article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, and became even more astonished:

Democracy’s chance

Thinking I may be further out of touch with media buzz than I previously imagined, I checked CNN to see what was being said about this monumental occurance. I could find next to nothing. I searched elsewhere, though superficially, and found so very little.

I did happen to find an article in CNN that came out today, most likely in response to the Guardian article cited above:

UK slams U.S. Guantanamo trials

But the only article I could find in CNN’s archives, was a passing reference in late April:

Supreme Court to hear Gitmo appeals

How is it that we do no feel compelled to voice our concerns about a State that can do whatever it wants to its own citizens? How is it that we can claim to go to war in the name of Freedom, while at the same time eroding its very core?

Do we really, all of us, feel so trapped?

Yes, we must do our very best to make certain attacks never occur within our country again. And yes, it would be so nice if no attacks occurred all around the world!

But times like these are very trecherous – in more than one way. We must be mindful of ourselves, our leaders, and particularly mindful of our own hearts and minds.

Time, Occurances and Probabilities

No Time!I’ve been spending a little time imagining events, when they happen, and their relation to time. It seems to occupy me when I play solitaire on my cell phone whilst sitting on the toilet.

I deal the cards. In doing so, the event of the card distributions occurs. Barring a few choices I then have on moving the cards around – the outcome of the game is determined at the initial card distribution.

I finish my game, and I’ve either won or lost.

Now, I decide to begin a new game, and I am readying to hit the Deal Cards button. My question is, were I to wait to hit the button until after I’ve wiped my ass, would the distribution of cards be the same as if I were to hit the Deal Cards button before doing so? (assuming truly “random” programmatics built into the mechanical game)

I thought the answer might be a simple one, relying on mere esoteric equations in probability mathematics. But on my cursory examination of such things, it is not so apparent. In fact, it led me back to philosophy, and the arcane notions of destiny and pre-determination – or chaos. And if mathematics were to meet the physics of practical observation, does my role of choosing or not choosing to hit the button at any given time even effect an outcome?

If not, there seems to be a bit of hopelessness. If so, then what forces influence such tides?

Mathematics alone does not seem sufficient. It can just reveal the liklihood of a particular event occuring, and can even go so far as to determine the liklihood distributed over time. But it doesn’t much deal with the actuality of the event occuring.

To resolve this with physics would require observing not only an event in the future (or the past, from which no information has been transmitted), but also would require observing two or more events simultaneously – i.e., you would have to know the state of the cards both now and the state of the cards in the future – and know them both simultaneously in order to make the determination.

I know that lots of physicists don’t like this sort of thing, and one good explanation they have is to say that the “wave” representing how the cards exist (in a compound sense, which is even murkier), exists throughout all space-time, and will collapse into a specific state when an interaction occurs. That our notion of past and future and now just don’t really exist.

But then, is it all predetermined – our consciousness moving along it’s tiny and pinpoint little “peephole” along the compound waves comprised of particle waves, like a rollercoaster locked tightly to rigid tracks of a multitude of causalities that exist, statically, throughout all space-time, and rooted to the Big Bang?

Or is it perhaps our little negentropic selves, realizing more and more the growing entropy, who need so desperately to encase ourselves in a safe, hardened and immutable shelter?

I’ll have to consider it some more, and hope that my leg doesn’t fall asleep while doing so.

But, given the choice… between superluminal communication and eternally static waves, I think I would choose superluminal communication. That might explain a good many of my problems, actually.

Superluminal Communication