June 29, 2006

A new Echelon…did you know about the old one?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Otter @ 9:42 am

I just finished writing an entry. 3 hours. Pretty good for drunk ol’ me. You know what happened? WordPress ate my post. Oh, well, that’s not fair. The first 5 lines were preserved. Everything else…gone. “Pissed” is not a sufficiently accurate word for where I’m at right now. Arrrrrrgh!!!!

Let me sum up. Boobka, I disagree with our phone carriers divulging our call records to Uncle Sam. Why? Dezhurnaya, and the system that makes them possible (and/or necessary). Cubans and Moscovites alike will grasp this concept.

I went on in insane detail about Echelon and its omnipresence. If you think that doesn’t bleed down to you…well you have another thing coming. “Dictionary Systems” are the heart of the matter. If you get them, you get most of it.

In a life long past I worked with the men and women that do the “spooking”. They are, in my opinion, patriotic, hard working, good people. People that don’t give two shits about your porn sites or blogging. People that I would understand knocking on my door for buying 2000lbs of fertilizer.

That being said, I forwarded a quote:

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.” –Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787. ME 6:57

I will gladly abridge my safety for my freedom. To forget that is to invite Senator McCarthy into my home. Of course, realizing that cross-dressing Mr. Hoover did more damage (and it only took one journalist to take him down).

Have you never wondered what KGB stood for? Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti…State Security Committee. Mystery solved. And what did they do? They represented the controlling interest in what started as the individual “Soviets”. These were the units responsible for security in the newly formed “Union” that obscured Russia and its satellites. In the end, “in the interest of the state” supersceded all else. Under this philosophy giving up my phone records would have been small potatoes. I like to think we did something that led us (permanently) away from that level of “understanding”. 9/11 changed things. It fractured our security. It provided us with the question of security vs freedom on a scale we’d never seen. Here’s a rather forgotten quote (more like a conversation) from the movie “Three Days of the Condor”:

Turner: Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?

Higgins: No. It’s simple economics. Today it’s oil, right? In ten or fifteen years, food. Plutonium. And maybe even sooner. Now, what do you think the people are gonna want us to do then?

Turner: Ask them.

Higgins: Not now — then! Ask ’em when they’re running out. Ask ’em when there’s no heat in their homes and they’re cold. Ask ’em when their engines stop. Ask ’em when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. You wanna know something? They won’t want us to ask ’em. They’ll just want us to get it for ’em!

Turner: Boy, have you found a home.

At what point is giving Uncle Sam the collective finger okay? Don’t believe for a second that the ability to listen to your pizza order is lost. But 2 billion calls a day? Get a grip. Here’s the scary part. That technology is less than 2 years away. On the flip side we just want them to get it for ’em.

Like I said. I know these people. They don’t mean you harm. But I will always default to Mr. Franklin. I often feel out of touch with my Founding Fathers, but I feel a sense of connection with Mr. Franklin. “Mr. Franklin, is it acceptable for me to unconditionally read your correspondence with all parties?” You want to guess what his answer to that would have been?

Here’s the deal. I don’t like the fact that some red, white, and blue snoop is staring over my shoulder. But the day he drags a terrorist in front of me I’ll be the first to rub a pig-skin football in his face as I forcibly insert a .45 slug into his dreamstem. What am I gonna base that muscle twitch on? We all have our demons. I have worked with these folks. But I still want Ma Bell the hell out of my business. You may see that as waffling, but at least it’s waffling with purpose. It really sounded better in the first post.

I live in a country where my ability, up to and including leaving, is preserved as inalienable. I’ll take a bomb to my house and the ability to fight with every means available to the naked inability to respond, subjugating personal right. That makes me uniquely American. We have a special place in this world. We took what we have (for better or worse). And we often forget that we are constantly fighting to keep it, both internally and externally. Each society has its “way”. Ours is struggle. We keep forgetting that.

There was a fairly awesome scene in a book I once read. A diplomat engaged in talks with China said something to the effect of, “I understand what you are asking. I am not obliged to answer at this time. I am here as a representative of a democratic society. In case you don’t understand that concept, that means I need to go back and ask a few hundred million people what they think about your request.”

I ended my previous (eaten) post with a musical quote and I won’t disappoint. You know me, there’s always a reference to the music I’m listening to.

“I do believe it’s true
That there are roads left in both of our shoes
If the silence takes you
Then I hope it takes me too”

The day we stop screaming is the day we begin in earnest. You can take a few buildings. You can rain fire on my land. You can set my people in confusion. And I can only promise this: we will reach across the globe and rip your heart from you. We will pursue you to your caves, valleys, holes, hovels, and beyond. We will build roads and hospitals where you have none. And we will use them to destroy you. If you thought the Romans, Peter, and Cyrus sought beyond, you have a new history coming. Believe me.

And stay the fuck out of my phone calls.


June 22, 2006

“Does she show pleasant enthusiasm when you mount her?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Otter @ 7:42 am

There is a song at: The Riddle. You have to wait about 20 seconds before you can download it.

Go there and download this song. I think of Paul every time I hear this song. Yes, yes, you have to jump through a couple of VERY minor hoops to get it. Download it and start it. Listen to the words. But, then again, you probably know me that well. Paul is the “old man of Erin”. Look up the lyrics. It isn’t in line with my current musical tastes, but I always think of Paul when I hear this and that’s pretty energizing for me.

A friend of mine is dead. How and why are not important. Death is the great equalizer that way. This man changed my life. He grabbed me by the throat and dragged me into awareness. He killed my demons. He created my conscience. I have him to thank for…me. His name was Paul Michael Sittler.

When I started college at Texas A&M Paul was one of the first people (one of my bosses) that I encountered as a student worker. Let me describe him. 6’11” on a good day. Red beard. 300lbs. All of the life and insanity and drive that, frankly, makes life go forward…forward…forward. He saw me and didn’t let go for a second. Imagine Socrates on crack. Why? Exactly! He would’ve laughed at that. I describe him as an equal mixture of Paul Bunyan, Hell’s Angel, David Letterman, and Rasputin. All on a 190 IQ pure fuel burn.

He adopted me and he didn’t let me go. He questioned my life, my decisions, my future. Every day was another trial.

When I got divorced I didn’t feel right showing my face at work for a week. When I finally couldn’t let it ride any longer I went back…fearing what Paul would say. He cornered me within 30 minutes of being back. “Come with me,” he said. I went outside to the loading dock and he perched himself on the low concrete wall and said, “So, what’s up?”

For a moment I was awash in emotion, expectation, fear…I didn’t know what to say. “I don’t know, Paul. It feels like the end of my life.” I was, frankly, afraid of what my always bluntly honest mentor was going to say. “Yeah, that’s how it usually works,” he started. “You’re going to listen to a bunch of sad and heart-rending bullshit songs that will all SPEAK TO YOU. That’s what they are for. Just remember…they are all bullshit. Your strength is within you. You know it…so do I.” I don’t know what else that man said for those 2 hours on that loading dock. I was going to live. I was going to live because of him. This hard, intelligent, belligerent man was going to hold my hand and walk me through it. I made it. My life worked and I went on to live happily ever after. It was because of him. I will never forget that.

When Paul was really sick I called him in the hospital. I didn’t know what to say. I tried to make light of the situation and laughed. All I remember him saying was, “It isn’t funny, dude. This is some serious shit. I can’t keep food down and I don’t know if I’m ever getting out of here.” Oh my God, I felt like shit. There is nothing in this world I would have done to make Paul feel worse and I felt like I’d done it. I wanted to scream, “I’m just nervous. Paul, this can’t be you. You are strong. You are a base for my life. You can’t let this get you. Fight! Fight! Crush this thing and be my Paul.” But I was afraid. This can’t be the Paul I knew. Paul is a force of nature. He taught me to bullfight with the universe…smiling the whole time. This couldn’t be true. He is gone now…and this is my eulogy. I miss him…oh, God how I miss him. I wish I’d known how to be close to him in that decade I was away. Now it is too late. Regret is the only evil I know…and, if you know me, regret is the most significant power of will that you can and should control. All I can do is remember him. And pass it on. That was Paul’s motto: “Pass it on.” Find something good and make sure everyone gets a taste.

There are only two terrifying words in the English language to me: “Too late.” If you haven’t been there, well, maybe you don’t understand, but nothing takes your breath away quite like those two little, unassuming words.

I had a dream last night. In it I was still working at Computer Technology where I used to work with Paul. I heard his voice outside the window and quickly looked out. I saw the back of his leg and scrambled to get to the hallway in time. Again, I heard his voice and saw the back of his legs and hurried up the stairs. Suddenly I was back in the hallway where we used to work and there was Paul. I walked up to him and said, “This is a dream, isn’t it?” He laughed and said, “You know it is. It’s okay. What did you want?” I followed him into our old office area and a found myself breaking down in tears. “Paul, I don’t know how to do this. Please…if you can pass this on. I miss you. I love you.” He just smiled. And I woke up. I don’t remember many dreams…especially the ones that I wake up from. But I remember this one.

I was a dipshit. I was a dumbass college kid that knew everything. When I graduated college Paul said, “Now you have a piece of paper that proves that even a monkey can be trained…and that’s all that’s important right now. Congratulations!!!” That was one of the most important moments of my life.

Paul spoke seven languages.
Paul wrote an adult novel (a very good one, if I must say) in both English and Korean.
Paul once rode a moped from College Station to Houston and back. He described it as “a grasshopper riding an ant”. I believe him.
Upon first meeting my fiance at the time, Paul’s first comment was, “Kenny, you didn’t tell me she was so well endowed.” My fiance laughed and forever won a place in his soul.
Paul was, literally, a soapbox preacher in Houston while living under a bridge and working (off and on) for Manpower.
Paul sold the first electronic Hewlett-Packard calculators in College Station while working for a Volkswagen repair shop.
Paul died wanting to fix up the Carmengia that was parked in his garage.
Paul once entertained me for 2 hours in Service Merchandise by buying a MIDI saxaphone and following people around the store playing “O Danny Boy”.
He insisted on playing a recorder (not the electronic type) while driving, fastidiously, below the speed limit.
Paul hit me in the face with a 12-foot tall brick wall of “why?” He helped me redefine my psyche. He bought me the “Smiling Man” book (I’ll buy it for you, too, if you need it).
He used the A-star algorithm to solve the “traveling salesman problem” and shared it with me that very afternoon. All between programming his new MIDI keyboard (which he kept in the hallway) and nuking ramen noodles.
Paul taught me the most important lesson of gun owership. “Guns make people rot. Either end of the barrel…somebody rots. Stupid people with guns are the worst. Smart people with guns are just slightly better. I’ve seen enough rotting for both of us.” I argued that I’d been brought up on a farm with guns. “Fair enough,” he said. “If you don’t shoot them often enough, then the gun will rot. Use your head.” More than a decade later, and enough personal experiece (and a brief exursion into Paul’s past world) to call my own, I understand what he meant. I think a number of my readers do, too.
And I won’t even get into the magical smells that he pointed out (on more than a few occasions) that a mustache can retain.

If only I wasn’t so afraid, I’d be living under a bridge. And he even understood that.

One of my favorite quotes was, “Snow Crash…have you read it? Read it!!! I don’t read fiction.” Paul was the champion of every good thing that he could get his hands on. To this day, if I read a book or watch a show or play a game that is awesome I feel compelled to share it with everyone I know. That was just how Paul was.

So many of my conversations with Paul went something like this:

Kenny: “I blah blah blah.”
Paul: “Why?”
Kenny: “Well, because blah blah blah.”
Paul: “Bullshit. Why?”
Kenny: “Ummmm…because blah blah blah.”
Paul: “Okay, so that’s the bullshit behind the bullshit. Stop talking until you understand what the fuck you are talking about.”
Kenny: “I guess I’m just stupid.”
Paul: “More bullshit. The day you understand the difference between stupid and ignorant you can say that…until then try again. Over.”

This happened again and again until I wasn’t ignorant. Paul was good that way. Like I said…Socrates. With more cursing. I became intelligent. I learned. I learned because he didn’t let up. He hounded me until I was no longer ignorant. He kicked my ass (screaming and fighting) into intelligence. I couldn’t have asked for a better father. My grandfather even understood that.

One time my grandparents came to visit while I was in college. They came up to where I worked and met Paul. We went out on the back porch of the building in which we worked to smoke. Paul lit a match and insisted that we all light our cigarettes off that one match. He went on to explain it was a superstition from WWI because snipers would use the second match to acquire their targets. My grandfather, being ex-military himself, knew that superstition (first I’d ever heard of it) and they were in love. Again, Paul was like that.

Paul used to grab my chest and pull back his pulsating hand. He would say, “I just ripped your beating heart out of your chest. You want to see it before you die?” Then he would laugh like a maniac and grab me behind the neck and drag me outside…offering me a cigarette and lighting both…before telling me how much of a dumbass I was for smoking. I’m sorry I fell away. I’m sorry he’s gone.

Reget is the only evil I know.

Find this quote. It was Paul’s favorite movie:

“There is an endless supply of white men. There has always been a limited number of human beings.”

The title of this entry is his other favorite quote. I’ll stop here, while even decorum that Paul would have frowned at stills my hand.

Obviously I don’t want to die now that Paul is gone. But I feel less like living.

He would kick my ass for saying that.

June 8, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — Otter @ 8:59 am

I sit here umongst my most stable of platforms…my disconnected state. Odd that, eh? I am driven by that which refuses me. I find solace in youth and understanding. Most importantly understanding. Most misunderstood…youth.

Are you afraid of heights? Have you ever stood upon a railing and wondered? What would it feel like? Would it be the drop or the fall? The impact? The decision? What stopped you? Why not? I believe there is a future worth discovering. A space in which we are traveling. Have I, in my life, decided that the end is worth it all? Yes. I have. And I have come back from that presipice. It wasn’t faith or belief or commitment that did it. I am a sanguine product of perserverence. Farm parents and all that… The injustice that is violent, destroying life is changing. It doesn’t take a boy and make a man. It takes a man and makes a regrettable shell. A reactive spectre. A thing. I force my belief to the edge of consideration. Not understanding, for I understand. “He who understands will understand.” Look that up. I have done my time dragging behind man’s moral code. I once embraced it…now I serve penance with full conscience. I will never repair the pain that I’ve cost. But I will use it to drive myself to a place of more…or nothing.

The only message to which I can honesly attest is both the internal and the external. Freeze this moment. Stop right here. What is right? Is George Bush evil? Is gay marriage wrong? Is drinking against God? Is pornography a path to unforgiveness? Right now! Choose! Right now!

Heady stuff, eh? I don’t like being backed into a corner. I’m pretty sure you don’t, either. Choose it. Decide it. NOW!!! I ain’t waiting around for your ass. Neither are the people that love you. Choose who you are. Right now. Because one day they will be gone. And then, I don’t care how many eulogies you give for them, you will not be able to regain their judgement on the matter. You will be cast adrift…on your own. And that will be your personal judgement day. And don’t even think for a second that I am a guide for your choice. That is the saddest of all possible outcomes. Who…the…fuck…are…you? OK, so here I am…crazy blog guy. Why pay attention to me? Why, indeed? And here’s the crazy part. I have my own beliefs on these issues. They may not be the same as yours. Choose!

Suffice to say I believe there is a message. A plan, if you will. Have you no sense of history (read my two previous posts to understand that I do)? In the 5th century there was a belief that women where inconsequential to the future of the world (virgin god birth notwithstanding) for purely Hebrew reasons. In the 20th century there was a belief that women controlled the sexual revolution (for a shitload of reasons that most of you won’t do the research to understand…who’s fault?). Let’s refer to Nag Hammadi. See below. I’m not going to do your research for you. Do it yourself.

I have no argument that I am the 21st century Parseval to this forgotten path. Sorry for drawing you this far. I am a scientist. An Engineer. And that makes exactly shit all guidance for your own personal quest.

One of my greatest friends is a fellow searcher. In the end I believe that all the words that represent the search for truth to be the same: Messiah, Horus, Siddartha Guatama, Christ, Krishna, etc. If you do an academic (not expected) amount of research you will see an emerging pattern.

What goes back as far as the teachings of man? Laws? No prophecy. Laws? What drives the future of Mesopatamia? Laws?. See Hammurabi for original reference on this one. Oh, yeah, the laws came from the “Master of Scribes” who went to the mountain to receive the laws from the gods. Oops, Moses? You are such a follower. Oops, indeed!

Here’s the deal. I’m not looking to risrupt anyone’s beliefs. Quite the contrary. I serve to reinforce them. The best thing in you is…in you. Catch a tune or emotion or feeling. Ride it to where you need to be. But be aware of what modern religion has brought you. Don’t disagree. Don’t dissent. Or risk being on the outside. Risk thinking and questioning. Risk your very soul on a popular ideal that dictates a following. Right or wrong you should look at the internal. At the end of the day you will be held to yourself. I feel for the human that is astray. Your choice.

I look myself in the face once a day and question. Are you following your beliefs? Are you worthy of being? Are you a gigantic hypocrite?

Some days yes.

Some days no.

Do you need a god? Listen. What do you think about it? Whatever *it* is? What did the first voice tell you? Forget the world and guilt and “fitting in” and … Therein lies God. Sadly, you think that is too simple.

I deal with my own salvation. Oddly enough, so do you. There was never a more clear message. Have you ever thought differently?

Because I can never finish without a quote I’ll end with:

“The call to arms was never true
Time to imbibe here’s to you
I’ll tell you stories bruised and blue
Drum machines and landslides

Just one more round before we’re through
More psychedelic yuppie flu
It’s such a silly thing to do
Now we’re stuck on rewind”

Nothing makes this more pertinent than the call to arms.

If you ever thought it was difficult…I’m sorry. It really isn’t. Belief is the awareness of understanding.

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