Crystal sparksWe miss things.

We look away. Sometimes it’s a matter of time, which is a matter of prejudice in the full meaning – not the popular usage.

Take for example The Wall, by Pink Floyd. I introduced the album to my father circa 2001, and he liked it. In 2004, I got a copy of the video for The Wall. The video is something that Tarantino probably looks up to, really, but it tells the story as they wished to represent it.

My father hated it, and would not listen to Pink Floyd after it. In his words, “They’re fucking sick!”.

Now, we could get into the metaphors, etc, but the video – is biographical to an extent, as is the music. It’s about tearing down metaphorical walls, something of a theme in every sentient human I know and have known. To me, it’s soul food.

That’s not what my father saw at all – in it’s own way a tribute of our differences. To him it was sick and disturbing. To me, in a way, that was sort of the point – because inside of ourselves, when we’re honest with ourselves, I think – there always lurks something sick and disturbing. Some might say that there is a darkness in all of us. My father was taught, oddly enough, to maintain The Wall, whereas I embraced that darkness early on.

Was he wrong? No, he was not, he was absolutely right in what he saw – in his context, in the context of his own life and what he thought the world should look like. Was I wrong? No, I saw in my context that it all fell into place. That he was a cornerstone of some of my Walls was a bit poetic in his reaction. Pink Floyd was also a tool for me to help work my way around things, and he believed in brute force – which is not to say that he wasn’t intelligent, but that he was forged of the same materials in a different furnace.

That’s one example of context. Others abound. We all prejudge things to at least a small degree, and some of us – a few, it would seem – take the time to get to understand the contexts better. To see things from different perspectives, to appreciate these perspectives for what we are. It’s important for creating lasting solutions in a world that doesn’t really care about context – it doesn’t care about our prejudices, it doesn’t care about any of what we care about.

The Laws of Nature, which we’ve started figuring out, don’t care about what you think of the next person.

Society, on the other hand, does. We live in both, and we live where contexts are always in conflict – and the big ugly ones remain unresolved because they fester, they are not allowed to heal, and they remains bricks of the wall in our society.


I was considering the words of Secretary Mattis to the troops: “You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it.

As a veteran, I get that. I served with people who didn’t like me, and I didn’t like some of them, but we had a common purpose. A vision. If we all pulled together, we accomplished things – united we were powerful, a force to be reckoned with. We knew we needed each other no matter what religion or culture, no matter what shade of our skin, and no matter gender (and the latter has become more pronounced since I got out). We strengthened weak links in the chain.

You can say many things about scorned women, but a team with a common purpose is exponentially worse. Of course, this is in the interests of one nation, so it is often at odds with similar groups of people around the world, particularly when the politicians do what they’re good at – division. It’s how they get elected, after all, so armed with their hammers all they see are nails.

Humanity lacks a vision that is beyond itself. Sure, you can tell me about religion (it’s not like people seem to need an invitation), but realistically that too is a bit narcissism  – as if we humans matter enough when, in the broad scheme of things, we don’t contribute much other than consuming energy.

How are children not sexually transmitted diseases? How is a growing population that does nothing but grow and destroy what it lives in anything but a cancer?

Seems like we need a vision beyond that to truly survive. Otherwise we’re just rats in a cage looking to escape or eat each other.

Some say that this is already happening.

Retirement Eclipse.

eclipseI’ve grown used to not worrying about things. It’s a comfortable way to live, like a hobbit in the Shire, having done my travels and having avoided coming how with any rings. I’m content, my health is better, and I sleep well at night – something that I’ve not been able to do since I was an infant. I may not live a life many people want but it is a life I have been content with. I’ve been writing a lot more. Some of it has even managed to slowly become something like a book.

I’d forgotten that I’d promised to attend the 13th Caribbean Internet Governance Forum at a local hub here in Trinidad and Tobago for at least one day. Flattery was tried to get me to go, and that almost never works because I don’t believe thinking highly of one’s self is of worth – knowing one’s value is. And in the end, it was the latter that got that promise out of me. From there, it was a simple matter of me keeping my word.

Well, it wasn’t a simple matter. The morning of, as I sipped my coffee and planned the day as I usually do, I realized just how much I didn’t want to go. For about 15 minutes, I toyed with the idea of saying I would come on the last day… but I had given my word, and I had written a day, so I could not do otherwise. Instead, I thought about why I didn’t want to go. Here’s what I came up with. I expected:

  1. The organization of the event to be done on the cheap, with glaring issues, and with inhibited participation.
  2. To hear much the same things I had heard before.
  3. To see more bureaucracy being created to try to change things, which is exceptional in that bureaucracy is created so things do not change. (Read James Gleick’s book, “Faster”).
  4. I would meet new people who would be thinking that these problems were all new and that we hadn’t been working on them.
  5. I would meet old people who had gotten so lost in the details that the larger picture was not as clear to them anymore (it happens; don’t protest too much).
  6. I would have to listen to bureaucratic doublespeak, something more tedious than Latin because Latin has the good sense to be accurate and does not tolerate ambiguity. Bureaucratese, on the other hand…
  7. I would end up involved since so few people are involved and engaged.

And, as it happens, I was exactly right. 

Echoed Extremism

People are ‘talking’, if that’s what you can call posts on social networking sites. They’re talking about Trump incessantly, they’re talking about Race as if it’s a real thing – and therefore talking about racism… and either side seems to be as hateful as the other.

If your feed, if all you can post about, is how horrible an elected official is – you’re not addressing the problem. You’re not. Blaming an elected official isn’t either. You’re pissing in the wind. You really are.

Be it hating on Trump, or Obama, or G.W., (or T&T: Rowley, or Kamla, or…) the list goes on. You cannot blame society’s ills on elected officials. You cannot.

Society elected them.

So, rather than spit the bile out on a site, rather than just regurgitate someone else’s pointed finger at someone to blame, take a deeper look beyond that. Take a look at what caused it.

The electorate. For one reason or the other, the electorate chose this. Now you can cling on to whatever you want to say about voting machines, or whatever, and put yourself into the same cycle that happens after every close election. You can. And, as history will show you, that solves nothing. Not. One. Damned. Thing.

Democracy isn’t about voting anyway – it’s about conversation. Discussion. This is an *exchange* of ideas. It’s you extremists that can’t have a conversation with opposing views that are the problems – and you might be surprised it’s not the White Supremacists and BLM and whatever other groups aren’t the real problem. The real problem is their echo chamber.


Yeah, sure, there are people with extreme positions – but why do they have them? Largely it’s because of culture and lately, economics and policies that hurt them. And sure, you’ll say, “They don’t hurt them, they aren’t about them.” Maybe they are. The Left is convinced that the Working Class are the poor, whereas the Right is convinced that the Working class is the middle class. Same country. Same language. Amazing.

Instead, I see an echo chamber that will perpetuate extremism – yes you, well meaning reader, posting everything bad you can possibly find about an elected official to show everyone (who already agrees with you) how bad they are. Yay, group masturbation.

So if all you got is how bad someone else is, and that’s all you can post about, you’re just adding fuel to the fire. Take a look at your stream. It defines you. It defines your connections; algorithms do not sweep the bad under the rug – they aggregate it. It’s the rare evil that does not think that it is doing good.

Adapted from one of my Facebook status updates

On ‘Race’

TheTruthHasNoConscienceThe history of ‘race’ is one of illusion, based on tribalism and nationalism – both of which have had a sometimes useful purpose in mankind’s development. It boils down to someone being ‘one of us’ or ‘not one of us’.

The Greeks, those that gave us the concept of democracy, called everyone who wasn’t Greek a barbarian:

The term [barbarian] originates from the Greekβάρβαρος (barbaros pl. βάρβαροι barbaroi). In ancient times, the Greeks used it mostly for people of different cultures, but there are examples where one Greek city or state would use the word to attack another…
…The Greeks used the term barbarian for all non-Greek-speaking peoples, including the EgyptiansPersiansMedes and Phoenicians, emphasizing their otherness, because the language they spoke sounded to Greeks like gibberish represented by the sounds “bar bar bar;” this is how they came to the word βάρβαρος, which is an echomimetic or onomatopoeic word. However, in various occasions, the term was also used by Greeks, especially the Athenians, to deride other Greek tribes and states (such as Epirotes, Eleans, Macedonians, Boeotians and Aeolic-speakers) but also fellow Athenians, in a pejorative and politically motivated manner…

Sound familiar? We see it every day, really. What we do not understand we dismiss as alien, invasive and ultimately something that needs to be dealt with because of fear or resentment. It is not hard to imagine how this has served in repelling foreign invaders. It is also not hard to imagine how this has been used to dehumanize others as either a reason to conquer. “They’re only barbarians.” Modern media, which sells advertising to stay alive (except the BBC, I think – funded by the Queen), promotes things that people want to see. It’s a reflection of society. Nowadays, we get to pick our channels – which makes it more complex.

Social media creates echo chambers for the same reason, where everyone you know agrees with you either by algorithm or active choice. Some talk about ‘Fake News’. Fake news wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t what people wanted – it fits their viewpoint. Contrary to what people believe, we’re all subject to that – no matter how hard we try.

We invent our own bogeymen because we refuse to see them as the same as us. Now, people will quickly draw a parallel with however they see the world.

A person who appears Middle Eastern will think immediately of how they are seen as Muslim or terrorists, a hispanic will immediately think of the hispanic perspective. Being brown in the developed nations of the West comes at a cost with little or no redeeming value.

Being of African descent, identifying as black, is pretty much the same in this regard because of slavery. When slavery was abolished, the poor European descendants (white) and the former slaves were pretty much on equal footing, just as the Indentured Laborers from India were in parts of the Caribbean and South America with the former slaves. I imagine that there are other examples, but these are the ones I know.

This was a problem for the people in charge, so they stoked the flames. How do you do that? Make them fight among themselves; reinforce the natural tribalism and the tendency to treat people unlike as outsiders who are not to be trusted. Pakistan may be an example of this when you look at the Colonial period, since it was created as a two state solution for violence in India under British rule.

Some people might have been a bit uncomfortable with slavery, so those that were in power went to scientists or had scientists come to them to create pseudoscience which demonstrated ‘others’ were less than themselves. Intentionality? Most certainly. Whose? Well, it’s hard to say, but it would likely have to be both the scientists and those in power. Get the right people behind it, and suddenly, anyone who is not like ‘us’ is less than ‘us’ because ‘science’ says so.

People who know this have a tendency to attribute intentionality to all of this. It most certainly has happened. There is no denying that. The way it is portrayed by some leans on either the Left, where the history is portrayed as one of intentionality, or one from the Right, where those ruled were problematic in creating the troubles. The problem with this is that they are likely both right.

Some of this could be as simple as an uncomfortably sweaty Governor hearing about the troubles and seeing how the troubles would help rather than hinder those they represented. “Well then”, he might say, “It is not in our interests to intervene.”  That’s not intentionality, that’s allowing society to take it’s course. Argue if you must (and some of you must), but that stands. If you look closely, you’ll see it every day around you when people see things and do not intervene. We could delve into the psychology of it, but then we’d be stuck arguing at a different level. What we can say, whether we like it or not, is that it’s demonstrably human nature. Sometimes.

Some of this that we see, after seeing how well not intervening worked, might be a sweaty Governor hearing about troubles and saying, “Let’s help push this along, shall we? It’s not going fast enough”. There we have intentionality. There is no question there, there is a simple use of making the situation worse to make the problem work toward someone else’s interests.

A combination of both ignoring situations as well as intentionality is likely the truth of it all.

All the while, those enforcing control over these factions retained power because no one had the time, energy or will to even question those in control except a select few. The successful of these few we know about – Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, etc.  We can be certain that the numbers of the unsuccessful dwarf them; we can study each leader and come to some conclusions, but in the end it’s a matter of serendipity and ability. The right people, the right time. These people only seem to succeed when society is willing to let them, and when society is only willing to let them when there is a common problem that society recognizes and wishes to solve.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual.

protect delusionThe truth of it all is that there are no races. Bureaucracies still count people based on this archaic illusion and perpetuate the illusion. I have mentioned that when I purchased a weapon in Wisconsin, I noted that on the form I was asked about race – as if someone in the U.S. Government wanted to have the number of armed Samoans at their fingertips.

Policies that are based on race – this illusion, this bad parody of science – also perpetuate the illusion.

Stop the illusion.

Or, by all means continue it and wonder why progress doesn’t happen.

If you are colored by the past – pun intended – how can you not be colored by it in the future? The future is what we take with us.

Repetition: Trinidad and Tobago

Nothing To HideI don’t comment much on Trinidad and Tobago because there’s not really that much to comment about. It’s all the same thing over and over again. To write commentaries on most things is simply to repeat myself.

I hate repeating myself.

I hate repeating myself.

I hate repeating myself.

I hate… well, that’s my threshold. I can’t find myself doing it again.

There’s only one thing that’s worse than being wrong: It’s being right.

Reading B.C. Pires’s Thank God It’s Friday, I can’t help but wonder how he has handled this over the years. There are others who comment as well, and they too continue to repeat themselves – a litany of the ills, a litany of what could be changed, a chorus sung at one time only on paper and now more interestingly on the Internet.

Through the volume of share ideas and opinions on things in T&T, if you hit squelch the same solutions keep popping up. Emotional opinions, grounded in nothing more than how something is said or written, drive the rational underground into caverns where they shake their heads. Rum talk, all of it.

In this way, Trinidad and Tobago is the planet in microcosm.

No Matter Where You Go

CavemanIt didn’t start this way.

It used to be that when you didn’t agree with the group, you’d wander off somewhere else on the planet and do your own thing. It could be about anything – if you saw more good in the risk of leaving the group than the bad of staying, you could wander off. Do your own thing, whatever it was, wherever you went. It was all pretty straightforward. If you got a group together that agreed on this, you’d have your own little starter tribe moving off to another part of the world.

No matter where you go…

The beauty of the world was that we hadn’t quite figured out that it was round, much less finite. It was all pretty infinite since we were using our feet back then. Then more you disagreed, the further you and your group walked. Maybe you were very angry but you find somewhere relatively near that was hospitable, and because of that you ended up closer than you probably should have to your original tribe. So you came up with a tree branch that you could whack other people with, or you figured out how to sharpen it. If you encountered people that you didn’t like, it was a simple matter of whacking them over the head or introducing them to your sharp and pointy stick. Eventually they would do the same.

Maybe you reconciled. Maybe you didn’t. At some point, you either ran out of people or one group moved further away than another. Things moved on. Nobody remembers Ug’s last stand where he was surrounded by pointy sticks, all begun because he believed in picking the fruits a little earlier than they did. Ug felt strongly enough to die for it. He’s not in your history books. Ug also had strong feelings about quantum mechanics, but we’ll never know.

If only Ug had wandered away, we might know.

And so diversity in thought came to the world as people moved just far enough away from each other to not get on each other’s nerves. They created little genetic pockets that caused a change in appearance, however small, even as they figured out how to make metal to chop down forests so that they could use that new invention, fertilizer. Populations grew, and soon the distance that was far enough some time ago was no longer far enough away for some. Wars were waged, walls were built, and conquerors decided that their way of life was so good that people wouldn’t mind a little violence to have their way of life.

As luck would have it, during that violence many people who disagreed with the invading way of life would be removed from the planet…. or the invading force who was convinced of how awesome their way of life was were removed. None of this was decided on merits. It was decided by technology, by aggression, and by strategy. There are some that say that this hasn’t changed very much since.

During all of this, one of the descendants of the folks that killed Ug – remember Ug? – figured out that things floated and, with a little work, they could make things that could take them over water. On a planet mainly covered in water, this was a pretty big deal though they didn’t know it at the time. Some guy would later be accused of proving the Earth was round the same year that the globe was invented, all because he was lost. He wasn’t the first, of course, but the people who wrote the history books wanted him to appear first – so he did. We know better now.

And so some people got to wander again, finding different lands where – surprise – they found different people who had been minding their own business and fighting with each other for as long as  they could remember. This was inconvenient, so after a while they conquered them if they didn’t slaughter them. Or, maybe it was time to have some slaves again – slave technology had been around for a long time and hadn’t changed much. For slave owners, who had the authority and power granted to them by themselves, sea faring meant being able to travel with the comforts of slavery to do things that they wanted to do without getting too dirty or sweaty. That these were other human beings didn’t mean too much to them. In fact, they denied it despite obvious indications that this was so.

Populations grew. There was no real place left to wander, and when you get enough people packed closely together for a long enough period of time, they find things to fight over. They did. World Wars came and went, bringing aircraft into the mix even as they started flying around. And so things went.

Meanwhile, with people all over occupying more and more land, there needed to be more effective ways to communicate. Before you know it, there were wires running and people tapping away in code to let other people know something that someone thought was important.

This evolved to the Internet, which you are likely using right now. Connecting the world that had been made of wanderers, it demonstrates how far apart people have grown more often than not.

…there you are.
– Confucius