Soapbox: A Collapse in Judgement

Recently I have been hearing stories about the "Collapse of the U.S. Dollar". While there is certainly evidence to support this theory, what is disturbing me more is how people are preparing for the consequences. The U.S. Government has been beefing up the Department of Homeland Security for a few years now, according to some to prepare for the collapse of the dollar.

Along with local law enforcement requesting increased crowd control ability in certain places, this theory definitely seems rather scary. In turn, many believe they must beef up in response to this potential threat to their liberty. However, most of us would plan for the collapse in the dollar in a much more productive(and much less scary) way.

Instead of stockpiling ammunition and beefing up our defenses, we should seek to build relationships with others and strengthen our ability to act independently as a community. Is it really all that beneficial to us as a society to pretend like everyone around us is going to pillage and steal the things around us once the shit hits the fan? If we allow ourselves to buy into that mentality, then it is far likelier to become the reality.

We should instead choose to understand the connections we have, and the community around us in order to strengthen our ability to continually lead comfortable(and productive) lives. America has moved far past the stage of societal development where we worry much about survival. I say we take advantage of that and seek to keep that going, instead of fear-mongering this idea that everyone around us is trying to tear that down.

I'll admit this post is rather preachy, but I'm an Anarchist at heart. And the people I most identify with(Libertarians) are just as prone to fear-mongering problems as the rest of the world is, I start to take issue with and question that philosophy. It does no one any good to perpetuate a standard of mistrust in all around us, even if there is reason to mistrust the few whom hold the power.

If the government is really seeking to prepare for rioting in the streets, and abundant chaos, then we should give them reason to look like fools and take care of ourselves. In fact, we should be doing that anyway. The point is, I'm not a very trusting person. Despite that fact, I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt in that they don't seek to destroy relationships. They seek to build them. Although I take steps to protect myself from someone trying to do me harm, I don't immediately assume that they are trying to.

Much as it is with science, I need evidence before I can believe something. If I have no evidence to believe that someone has malicious intent, I have no reason to believe they have malicious intent. Just remember these wise words:

E Pluribus Unum

Defining Our Lives


There comes a point in everyone's life where we really learn who we are. When we truly understand how our experiences and choices have created the only thing we'll ever know for sure: Ourselves. Each of these experiences is different, each one with different causes and effects. Some people change in a profound manner, and some change very little. Even though this entity cannot be described in any concrete way, it's a stage in human life that we all have or will come to know.

It's an interesting phenomenon, when you consider the consequences of consciousness. Many don't even give it a second thought, and accept it as just another change in their lives. But to me, this change is profound, and even though I am still the same person at my core, a lot of my views and ideas have changed greatly. Things I used to find unacceptable, are more than acceptable now.

Ideas that seemed to hold little weight in the world are actually much more influential than previously thought. My friends haven't changed much, and neither has my relationships with them. I have gained many new friends whom I value just as greatly as my friends prior to this tipping point. These are only the ideological and philosophical changes. Some of my senses have changed as well and become sharper.

A sense I had not had before, as strange as this is, has manifested in a big way. Feeling movement through the universe and across the surface of the Earth(e.g. when driving, a distinct feeling of traveling through space) is not something I had a very good sense of before. Perhaps that is a common feeling that I had been lacking for whatever reason, but to me it's very new and very profound! I feel as though I am more greatly attuned to the life I live.

While I cannot say if others experience this kind of phenomenon in such a profound way, I do believe there is a point in everyone's life where things just start making sense. That time for me is now, which at 26 makes me wonder if my experiences in life had been different, would I have experienced this sooner or later? Will this change make my life definitively better? Well, that's the tricky part. I can't say for sure. I can certainly say that I will feel like I enjoy life more.

But will it allow me greater opportunity to seek what I want from life? Or will it simply allow for an acceptance for what I have? If I know me, the latter will not hold much weight. I still seek to be a writer on many levels, and even though it seems like not much has been happening lately, there is a lot of leg work being done for the next story. Here's a hint: An Observe Re-Write(yet again, I know, this would be rendition #6).

However, because of how things have changed in my life, I believe the changes I wish to make will ultimately make for a better story. Which is interesting to me on the level of how life experiences can change a person's writing. I could go on and on about how this feeling and these changes effect life, but I'm not here to write another novel.

I guess despite my rambling what you can take from all of this is that even though there has been a slight lack of content within the last month, there is much more to come. One of the things I have learned is not to fear the passion that drives you. Why I had feared it in the first place, even I don't know. But this change means I am much more inclined to sit and write, than I am to sit and game. This means much more real original content coming!

As always folks, thank you for your support. I appreciate all of you who take the time to read through any of my posts! My hope is that you took away something from them, and that they provide you with some insight into your own lives. Stay Tuned for more!

E Pluribus Unum!

The Republic of Celebrity


More and more lately it is becoming apparent to many that politics is a game of re-election and money. Those who are voted into office, spend an inordinate amount of time fundraising in order to gain re-election. While this is a necessity for them to keep their office, can we place the blame entirely on them? Even the best intentioned politician still has to play the game, and spends less time enacting the will of their political constituents and more time ensuring they have the power to do so.

Advisors are paid good money to ensure their public image is spotless, with the intention of the politician in question becoming a celebrity among their community. Constituents who encounter their candidate of choice out in every day life treat them as such, asking for pictures and autographs. We even set up public events specifically for this purpose.

But while we treat our politicians like celebrities, does this effect their policy making? There doesn't seem to be any real concrete way to prove(or disprove) this idea but it does seem to effect how much time they put into policy making. Most people have no idea what's going on with policy, and most of us believe we shouldn't have to. We elect officials to take care of the details for us, in the hopes that they will represent our interests.

This is most likely the reason that most politicians also studied law. It increasingly apparent that with a government so steeped policy and laws, that the average person will not understand how language in a bill can be exploited in different ways. One wrong sentence, or one clause missed and your bill could have an entirely different legal interpretation than you originally intended. 

Regardless of their intentions, these celebrities are impacting our every day lives. Most of them use that celebrity to gain favor with specific companies, and even some companies use their own notorious celebrities in order to gain favor with those politicians. Are we sabotaging our own interests by allowing this culture to continue? Are we causing stress and potentially undue harm on those we elect by coveting them in such a manner?

We want policy to be transparent and available to the people to decide if their elected officials are truly keeping their interests at heart. But at the same time, this system raises them to a level of power that can potentially harm the process we are trying to obtain. This is not an easy concept to explore beyond the realm of philosophy, but it is definitely one we should think about. Even if you don't trust the government, the people within it are still people.

No matter what level of corruption there may be, sometimes it is best to make your enemy your friend. We're all in this together, and we stand to gain nothing by placing one above the other. That is unless, you're the one being lifted.

E Pluribus Unum

The Hierarchy of Intelligent Life


Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs is something that we all have to deal with. In terms of maturity, it's actually quite accurate. However, is there more to this concept than just the individual human? Is it possible that as a species we grow in a similar manner? Physiological problems are the first round of issues we solved in order to survive.

We need shelter from the elements, and from others that would wish to harm us. Food is required to keep the body going in order to reproduce and protect ourselves from harm. Relationships with others help us to build strong connections on an emotional level, which gives us purpose to keep finding better solutions.

Being a productive member of our community is important to us because we want to feel accepted and respected. Once we achieve a level of respect and self-worth, we should seek to continue improving ourselves by considering how our actions affect others. We seek to create a sense of enjoyment of our company for those around us, and to try and see the good in all of those around us.

These concepts are deeply rooted in every self-help book, every "better yourself" talk, and every person trying to give an impression of wisdom. But do we really hold these ideas to be true as a species? Well, I would argue at this stage we do not. We are at best at a level of Safety as far as how we treat the world as a whole.

I have covered before that we are still potentially a species in it's infancy. Without getting too political, I urge everyone to take a look at the way we treat our problems and issues. Most do not think of the morality or true impact of how government solves problems like poverty, natural rights, entitlement, crime, and even how the government itself runs. There is far more concern with solving the problems, than whether these things can truly be solved in a moral or practical manner.

In terms of the hierarchy, if we truly with to solve these problems we cannot be thinking on one level. We must consider the moral and practical implications of what we want. As a whole we must accept that ideology cannot solve the problems we must face. So the real question is, which level are you on in our Hierarchy of Intelligent Life? Do you think purely in terms of ideology, or the way it SHOULD be? Or can you remove your ideal situation and look at it for what it really is?

A wise man once said: "We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them." So consider for a moment, trying a different level of thinking. You may be surprised at what you find.

E Pluribus Unum

The Bare Minimum

With the recent State of the Union and the current debate in Minimum Wage law, I would like to run down some ideas behind this debate that make it so important.

It's not a very easy situation to understand, especially when you get into the economics behind the idea of raising minimum wage. There are those who believe that raising the minimum wage will stimulate the economy by putting more money in the hands of those who need it. By doing so, they will spend it on consumable goods like food and living expenses, which will stimulate and boost the businesses that sell those good.

Then there are those who believe that it will ruin the economy, by forcing companies to pay more than they can afford for work they need done. All of that money has to come from somewhere, and raising the minimum wage could potentially remove jobs by surpassing the budget set aside for payroll in companies.

It's easy to see both sides of this debate on an economic level, but let's break it down into a philosophical level too. There are those who believe that everyone should have a fair chance at a good standard of living. Not all jobs can support your own house, car, food, and living life expenses. Not all jobs are worth that kind of pay either, since they do not require any special skills in order to perform.

There is another side to this coin that most don't bother to look at. If you have a single person who has no one to take care of but himself, a higher minimum wage is great for him. If you have a single person who has to also take care of others(siblings, children, family), a minimum wage increase is great but only marginally beneficial to him as a standard of living increase. 

Is it fair that the person who only needs to take care of himself gets paid the same? If we truly want everyone to have the same standard of living, shouldn't the person with other responsibilities get paid based on the responsibilities he/she also has to fund? This seems like a fairly easy answer. The person with extra responsibility is not doing more work at that job, they simply have to deal with more based on their decisions.

So where is this Minimum Wage debate going to take us? Let's take a look at the idea of a standard of living. Everyone needs a place to live, and we all want it to be somewhere decent that we can call home. We all need transportation to get to and from the jobs that we hold, and also to go out and experience life. We need to eat, and we would like to eat healthy and eating healthy can be more expensive.

it's also not unfair for us to want to have time to go and have fun. Life shouldn't be all about work should it? So let's take a look at this again: Is raising the Minimum Wage the answer? Well, it's one solution to the problem. Perhaps we can look at it a different way by finding different ways to obtain that standard of living we seek.

Money becomes the ultimate question in every debate we hold politically as a society. What is going to fund these programs and ideas? Monetary policy and the idea of currency is a much bigger issue than I can post here, but let's just keep in mind that it does play a big role. But does that mean that money should be the only way that we obtain the things we need?

Personally, a minimum wage increase would more than likely hurt my current situation. I don't get paid minimum wage, and am actually fairly well above it. However, like it or not, the Minimum Wage is the acknowledgement of the government that standard of living has increased due to inflation. If the minimum wage increased to how much I am getting paid now, there's no guarantee that my wages will increase accordingly.

If my wages do not increase based on the minimum wage, then the government has put me at the bottom of the barrel, the lowest end of the livable wage, and expenses will increase based on that. So in effect, the government may be looking out for those at the bottom end, but by increasing the minimum wage they are effectively increasing the amount of people at the bottom.

Like it or not, that is an issue we need to take into account. And as far as I'm concerned, I don't like the idea that all I've worked for to get above the minimum wage will mean nothing because there are still those who are stuck there. This is the reason I seek to spark debate on other solutions. What these solutions could be, I don't particularly know.

However, we won't know until we put our minds together and figure it out.

E Pluribus Unum

The Way of the Future - Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin is a relatively new idea at play in the marketplace, and the marketplace of ideas. Many people are turning to the new Cryptocurrency in order to facilitate a safer atmosphere for making purchases. Bitcoin has the ability to make your purchases anonymous. Although purchases are not untraceable(that's part of what's built into the system), you can create multiple wallets to keep your identity safe

These benefits make it a very appealing option for those of us who value our money and wish to keep our transactions anonymous for the sake of our own safety. While this also empowers some less desirable activity to some, I would remind you that the system itself was not designed to empower those purchases. It was designed to allow each individual in the system the freedom to stay anonymous, and to keep the currency unregulated which allows the market to function as freely as possible.

With the recent problems with Target and Neiman Marcus systems being hacked and the collection of credit card data, the world is looking towards ways to make their purchases safer. Cryptocurrency is not quite in the headlines to fix these problems, but it is still a viable option. In fact, Canada has begun experimenting with it's own form of Cryptocurrency. It's fantastic to know that someone is taking this idea seriously! There are dangers to a Cryptocurrency, especially one run by a government. 

In order to place value within that currency, you can't mint as much as you need. Bitcoin has solved this problem, by limiting the amount of currency that it started with, and creating a cap on how much currency will ever be introduced. I cannot say that Bitcoin will be the only successful Cryptocurrency, but it has definitely set itself up for success!

Looking towards the future, we understand that our society is becoming more and more integrated with technology. As such, we need to keep moving forward and finding better solutions to problems like these. Could Cryptocurrency be the way we do business in the future? Or will a physical medium always be necessary to create value and a solid economy? There are certainly a lot of questions to be asked, and answered!

The God Problem

It's an idea designed so intricately with who we are, that it is impossible to define concretely. There is no one objective theory to it, everyone's view is different. But how do we solve the God problem? Is it a problem at all? What exactly would it solve to prove, or disprove the idea in the first place?

I grew up Christian, so God and the Christian faith have been a large part of my life for many years. It was only recently that I began thinking of myself as Agnostic, and only because my scientific mindset caused me to begin questioning the ideas of God, and what they really mean.

Is believing in a God right? Is it wrong? Does it even call for a moral imperative to define it? The idea of faith is so broad and so changing that for me it is incredibly interesting to see how others view it. Personally, I want to believe a God exists. Even when you get into ideas of String Theory, Quantum Theory, Relativity, it begs the question: Where did these ideas come from? Are they truly the results of chaos?

If I were to hold an idea of God to be true, I would view it like they were a game developer, that created a cosmos for us to learn and explore in great depths. Perhaps they want us to live our lives freely, and do the most good we possibly can. Perhaps it is not a question of Benevolent or Malevolent, and it exists on a level that does not view events as a moral question.

Perhaps it's a being on a level beyond us, and while they may not be a "God", they may exist on a level that we would perceive to be a God. It is also just as likely that a God does not exist at all. Maybe Chaos really is all we have in this cosmos. If that were the case, would it make life worth less? Would we have less reason to strive for more?

The beauty of these ideas is that whether you believe in Chaos, or God, it comes down to where you place that importance. If you believe in Chaos, the only way to make your life worth anything is to place that worth in it yourself. If you believe in a God, you place that in an idea that you believe is worth living for.

I do not know much of other religions, or their beliefs, but I am inclined to believe that they are the same in that it is not necessarily a question of right or wrong. It's a question of subjective belief. The "God Problem" may not be a problem at all, unless we refuse to accept it for what it really is. And all it really is, is an idea.

This is why I embrace science. Unlike the idea of God, in Quantum Theory we can replicate results in multiple instances. We can create and view these results on our own, without much guessing. However, I don't think science should seek to discredit or devalue the idea of God. It should simply use the idea of God as a motivator to observe and learn as much as we can about the universe.

Mythbusters - The Science of Experimentation

Image Courtesy of Tested.com(Adam Savage's Blog Page)

I had the pleasure of attending the Mythbusters Behind the Myths tour last night in Minneapolis, and it reaffirmed a lot of my ideas of how awesome science can be. Adam and Jamie put on a fantastic show, letting audience members become a part of the experimentation.

The show emphasized the wonderful nature of science, and how sometimes experimentation is nothing but having a little fun. In the case of Mythbusters, the myths are merely a vessel to understanding physics and world around us. The myths they investigate lead them to ask other questions about how things work, how they can build(and explode) things in a different way.

Applying this mindset to every day life is a beautiful thing that we should all strive for. Personally, things are always a lot more fun when you can poke and prod, manipulate and change. If there is one thing I took from the show, it was to not be afraid to experiment, and have fun with my life.

No matter how others may perceive this experimentation, or whether they understand it or not, it is important to always stay true to that dynamic. So with this, I move towards the future without fear of failure, or judgement. Let's see what the world has to offer!

The Bleak Black Friday

Ok, here's a little bit of soap box, and a little bit of information for you. I've worked Black Friday in retail before, and anyone who has had to work it will tell you it sucks. A lot. Personally, I make sure I don't have to go to any store on Thanksgiving, making sure that stores have less of a reason to keep people from their families on the holiday.

Black Friday on the other hand, is a whole different story. It has become such a huge celebration of shopping that I avoid stores for my own sake. Stores are so packed it's not even worth trying to get in or out unless I absolutely positively need something. In which case I try to plan ahead for what I need so as not to get caught in that trap.

But let's get on to some numbers, and some real food for thought. In fiscal year 2012, shoppers shelled out a whopping $59 billion over the Black Friday weekend. NASA's entire budget for 2012 was only $18.7 billion. The American Red Cross operated in 2012 for $3.2 billion. We spent more on general shopping for one weekend than we did for humanitarian aid and even more than our entire space budget. For the entire year.

Now, I'm not saying having some good deals is a bad thing. But we've created such a shopping culture that it's more important to us to have a weekend of good deals than it is to help our fellow man or advance our sciences. What's even more sad is that many of the electronics people are buying wouldn't be possible without the very same space program we are neglecting. 

I simply hope that we can shift our attention to more important things, and let Black Friday just be a fun weekend of decent deals. As opposed to the single most important holiday to America. And if you think it's not a holiday, you're kidding yourself. It's more of a holiday than Thanksgiving is now.

Take a little bit to remember what's important to you. Is it the pair of skinny jeans you found on sale at JCPenny's? Is it that tablet or TV you really wanted that was on sale at Best Buy? Or are these things accessory to the rest of your life? Just take a minute, and think. Keep on shopping, but remember that money could be used elsewhere. That effort and man power needed to get you those deals could be used elsewhere. 

Like me or not, I hope it at least made you think. Remember: E Pluribus Unum.

Advertising and Social Media

Social Media is an ever-expanding marketplace for people to connect with each other, and share what they enjoy. So much so, that companies invest more into social media pages like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest pages for their products. This is quickly becoming common knowledge, but why is it becoming so popular?

It's based upon the same principle that businesses have valued since the beginning of businesses: Word of Mouth. Your friends telling you about a product is far more effective in getting you to try it, than a cold advertisement. When you look at an advertisement, chances are you don't care unless it's something you had already been thinking about, or it's from a company you already trust.

This is why Advertising gets such a bad reputation nowadays. You don't care about that product, but you have to watch the stupid commercials! Unless you pay for the content you're watching directly, or a streaming service. So remember, it may be annoying to have commercials, but they're paying for you to have free content. A little patience is appreciated for those content creators, so they can make money on their work!

There are few people out there who will look at an advertisement that is completely unrelated to what they desire, and it causes them to buy the product. But if your friend likes something, it's gotta be worth trying right? Well that's the basic principle that companies are using to increase their reach with customers.

Even for small web sites like this one, the most valuable reach I can get is for my readers to share with their friends(wink wink hint hint nudge nudge say no more)! One thing that tends to get in the way for most people, is copyright laws and how they effect us on the internet. Content producers have to be very careful about the things they display on their web sites. For example: If I were to use a stock photo that was not free for everyone to use in an article that I was selling something in, I could get in some serious trouble.

Thankfully for all of us, I don't advertise a product much. I actually enjoy spreading knowledge and sharing things with people, which is why I choose a creative commons license for my work. For those of you who aren't sure what a Creative Commons license is, it's a different way to copyright your work.

Personally, I've chosen a CC license that allows people to take my articles and share them, even tweak them to their liking, so long as they share the original source(this website)! This is highly beneficial to me as a writer and content producer, as well as a blogger. People can take my work and share it across the web, so long as they point back to me for credit for the work. It sounds pretty common sense, but not all people/companies allow this.

The evolution of advertising has come to a point where it is now easier for EVERYONE to get their work out there! Indie artists are ever more capable of sharing their work directly through social media and viral campaigning, so that they can be directly involved with their customers and fans. Instead of having to go through a publishing company, they can do it themselves.

This is even highly beneficial for the consumer! You have so many more options to choose from, that nowadays the good products are the ones that are actually good! Instead of just what has the most money for advertising! Trust me when I say, the future looks incredibly bright thanks to social media!

And remember: Share with your friends if you enjoyed this, or any other article on here, or any website. Let your friends know about the things you find! 

Words Do Not Equal Intent

Reuters / Toru Hanai

http://rt.com/usa/scaremail-nsa-tool-nonsense-957/

An Illinois man has developed a Gmail browser extension designed to randomly insert fake, nonsensical stories into the signature of every email one sends to confuse the NSA’s surveillance operations.

Benjamin Grosser says “ScareMail” takes keywords from an extensive US Department of Homeland Security list used to troll social media websites and utilizes them “to disrupt the NSA’s surveillance efforts by making NSA search results useless.” 

The buzzwords include the likes of “Al-Qaeda” and “Al-Shabab,” yet also more mundane terms like“breach,” “threat,” “death” and “hostage,” among many others. 

While the political implications of this article are pretty obvious, the sociological implication of the 'ScareMail' effort is a whole different story.

"ScareMail reveals one of the primary flaws of the NSA’s surveillance efforts: words do not equal intent.” 

So how can this affect the NSA program? Well, over-using and flooding their servers with the same key words will essentially either slow or stall their search efforts.

But what are the implications of "Words do not Equal intent"? It's rather daunting to think of the issues this kind of societal mindset could bring. First of all, we couldn't trust anyone. What we say and what we do could be two completely different things. 

If law reflects the will of the people, and the law eventually dictates that words and documents of stated threats or red flags that indicate threats, then the world would become a much more complicated place.

Think about it. If words did not equal intent on all levels, would any contractual obligations mean anything? If you signed something that explicitly stated that you would comply with the given conditions you are signing for, would that even mean much of anything?

Society runs based on our words to each other. We can sign papers and give promises all we want. In the end, we choose to follow through and honor those promises. So if we chose to make our words and promises to mean nothing, how would that impact our society?

Massive Impact

 

Society has changed a lot in the last 100 years, and it's effects are barely noticeable to most of us. They are massive, hardly subtle changes that any outsider would see as impossible advancements. So why is it that our culture is so steeped in under appreciation for the wonderful technology we have?

One of the reasons is unfortunately politics. But not necessarily a congressional policy in a direct or indirect sense. It's more so the mindset that something so amazing has to be regulated and people need to be protected from it. From Cell Phones, Cars, and even the INTERNET, every aspect of human technological advancement is subject to the now visible hand of the government.

I would like to use the Internet as a main example for this problem, since it is a major player in recent events with the NSA. When did we come to believe that regulating everything will be the answer? If there's one thing I've found being a gamer, companies who limit their community's ability to interact with and create within that game or community do more poorly than those who do.

Take Valve and the Half-Life franchise for example. A multitude of games have spawned and even entire communities around this one game. Counter-Strike and Team Fortress are two of the major ones, while Half-Life has had numerous mods and even independently made game add-ons(Gearbox, creator of Borderlands actually got their start with Half-Life: Blue Shift, and Opposing Force). Counter-Strike has COUNTLESS mods to make your gameplay change, different maps to enjoy(and some incredibly creative ones I might add), as well as the Team Fortress franchise.

Team Fortress 2 is a franchise that EVERY game company could learn from. You can play for free, all you want online. And based on how you play, you can get items, weapons, and upgrades for your different classes. You can also BUY the ones you really want, along with special edition hats. That's it. Just hats.

Where does all of this play in? Well, if gaming communities can be passionate enough to create original content that the entire WORLD can enjoy for free, I think ANY kind of community can do the same! Except when it comes to products that a company sells, or a service that is offered, things become a different story.

But should they? Should we treat these products any differently than an entertainment medium? If a gaming community can band together to create a better product, why not allow all other mediums to do the same? I may be wrong on this happening, since I'm sure there are some people out there who enjoy modifying/improving products. I just don't see it nearly as much.

How does regulation affect the spread of information? Greatly. With the proposed legislation in CISPA, and SOPA/PIPA, I wouldn't have a website right now. I wouldn't be able to post a link to Discovery's video about the impact of the internet. Hell, I wouldn't be able to do really ANYTHING if I didn't have some serious legal help on my side.

I have a creative commons license that allows you to post/link this article, change and modify any information you wish on it, and share it so long as you give credit to me for the work I did on it. That's all I ask. Why do I do this? Because I know it's good for me, and it's good for you. We both win in that situation. You are able to convey your point while also providing a source for the information you presented. I am able to get my work out there and provide you with information that you find pertinent to your search.

It really is just about sharing the world around you, and understanding the benefit of allowing others to use/manipulate the information as well. Would I be angry if you plagiarized the entire article? Yes, I would. Would I sue you in court? No. I would refute your information and provide solid evidence that the information was plagiarized, thereby destroying any credibility you would have with your reader. All of that readership would then potentially come to me, knowing who really did the work.

I could go on and on about the benefits of a free, and open internet system, but I'd like to get back on point: The manipulation and regulation of technology is shooting our entire society in the foot. If we suppress innovation to make a better product, or provide a better service, we are stifling the very innovation that got us to this point.

Just because you are successful at one point, does not mean the government should guarantee continued success. It's up to you to keep innovating, and being one step ahead of your competition. That is what will set you apart. So how about we stop stagnating our ability to move forward, and start removing all the regulation making it happen.

Let's make an even greater impact for the future generations to come.

E Pluribus Unum 

Chasing Your Passion

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest-blogs/2013/20131002-i-cannot-volunteer-my-time.html

Today I received my furlough notice from NASA. Since my job isn’t considered “excepted,” in other words, since no one will be injured or die if I don’t report for work, then I am to remain at home until recalled to work after the Congress passes and the President signs some sort of budget or continuing resolution to keep the government running. The fact that the government has shut down all non-essential operations should come as no surprise to anyone who hasn’t been hiding under a rock these last several days.

What may come as a surprise to many is the following statement from the letter I received informing me of what I can and cannot do during the furlough: “During the furlough, you will be in a nonpay, nonduty status. During this time, you will not be permitted to serve NASA as an unpaid volunteer.”

How many federal agencies, for that matter, how many employers have to tell their employees “I’m sending you home without pay for an indefinite period of time and you are strictly prohibited from doing any work for the company/organization on your own time and without compensation?” I dare say there are not very many people out there who would take forced, unpaid days off and continue to work for the company that sent them home. Except at NASA. And, yes, if it weren’t so explicitly stated, I would be one who would continue to work on my NASA projects at home, on my own time, and without compensation. I am sure I wouldn’t be alone.

The government shut down has taught us a few things about our government. Despite their shut down, society still functions. Because of their shut down, hundreds of thousands are without pay, while hundreds of millions save on their tax dollars. NASA is not exempt from these furloughs, and while the general public is saving on their overall taxes, our space program is all but stalled.

Why should any of these people furlough their passions because of politics? If there's one thing this whole ordeal has taught me, it's that there are many people out there who are seeking passion in all the wrong places. All of these scientists and engineers are forced to take time away from what they love thanks to politicians. I don't know about you, but if I ever had someone tell me I couldn't do a job I'm passionate about because a politician failed to do their job, I would find a new place to work.

If there is one message we should take from this, it's that perhaps our trust to run these programs should not be placed in an inefficient government such as ours. Not to mention, while all of these people are essentially out of work with no pay, the politicians are all still getting paid. Getting paid to shut down everyone else's work and dreams. Perhaps it's time to take a serious look at where we're placing our trust. 

We're all in this together. Let's stop letting someone else tell us what we can and cannot do.

E Pluribus Unum. 

Politically Underhanded

http://benswann.com/truth-in-media-event-smeared-by-minneapolis-star-tribune/

Ben Swann had the distinct privilege of speaking before a group of liberty activists in Minnesota a little over a week ago. Liberty Minnesota graciously extended the opportunity for him to bring the “Liberty is Rising, Truth in Media” tour to the campus of the University of Minnesota on Friday, September 13.  Liberty Minnesota billed the event as:

“A kick-off of Liberty Minnesota’s Free Communities Project and featured local mayors, city council members, movie directors, and award winning journalist Ben Swann who talked about his new Truth in Media project.”

Within days after the event, a reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune published an article that was a thinly veiled attempt to smear Republican candidates who were in attendance. The reporter Rachel E. Stassen-Berger begins the article by insinuating that Swann is a conspiracy theorist and “9/11 truther” and then goes on to criticize Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson as well as Republican candidates, Phil Krinkie, and David Gerson for having a presence at the event to engage potential voters.

 

Here's a little bit of interesting Politics for you. I actually attended the Liberty Event in Minneapolis on Friday Sept 13th. The people there were all outstanding people to talk to! Very kind and level-headed, thought clearly about the issues we face.

During that event a couple local Mayors spoke about their Liberty based mindsets and how they have effected their policy decisions. They even spoke of their colleagues being frustrated with them over not funding pork projects like a "Cat Extermination/Relocation service". 

At the end of the day, these are all people who care about what happens in government and think clearly about where that money to fund government comes from. Not to mention, the article "smearing" them isn't really all that substantial. (http://www.startribune.com/politics/blogs/224120931.html)

It contains a few key "hot button" words to inspire emotions in the reader. The unfortunate part is it inspires anger, hatred, and distrust. I can guarantee you there was no "conspiratorial" talk. Only questioning what we are being told. As we should be.

With people like the author of this Star Tribune article giving us information, I feel like questioning what we're told is that much more important. Saddest part is, she's not the only one dishing out information this way. Fortunately for us all, people like me aren't about smearing back.

We're about fact-checking, discrediting, and removing their information from the argument altogether. Ben Swann does a fantastic job of doing just that.

Is Life a Game?

Obviously life is not a game. The real question is, are we turning it into one? Games are appealing to us as humans because it presents a clear objective and reward. Unfortunately, life does not work that way. So then why does everything turn into a game?

Let's break down some common tools for education and goal setting. Positive reinforcement is often used to teach children, by giving them a direct incentive to be able to recite information. I choose my words carefully here, mind you. Just because someone can pull information out of their brain to write down or recite for a test does not necessarily mean they have learned it.

This is painfully obvious to those of us in the work world who deal with training in new workers. So is school turning into a game? Is our educational system designed to simply encourage reciting information, rather than learning and understanding it?

I heard a lot in school that certain subjects we had to know just because that's part of the school curriculum. You may not be surprised to find I did poorly in those classes. Some classes I did exceptionally well because there was a reason for learning that information. Psychology was by far my favorite subject in high school because my teacher did a fantastic job at explaining the uses and importance of the information.

So where are we headed? We talk about our educational system failing constantly. But is it failing because we aren't creating incentives? Or is it failing because we take an entirely wrong approach to teaching?

A Species in Infancy

 

The human race has been around for quite some time now. Within the last few hundred years we have made great strides in the way of technology and sciences. So where are we now? Despite our longevity, can we truly say that we are matured as a species?

I would say there is still a long way to go. The unfortunate part about this prediction is there is no way to tell how true it is, until we develop more. I may never live to see whether the human species has fully developed or not.

While this kind of thought process is a matter of opinion, let me lay down some guidelines we should follow in order to ascertain whether or not we have matured fully. I believe that the human species will have matured fully when we embrace the idea that it is easier and more beneficial to make allies, than enemies.

When we treat our fellow humans with respect, regardless of whether we agree with their life choices or not. We will be fully matured when accept unanimously that we are a product of the universe, created so that the universe might observe itself. As such, we should strive to explore the universe(and possibly multi-verse) for the sake of ourselves AND the universe. To learn as much as we possibly can about our existence so that we might take better care of it and appreciate it.

When we have placed a greater importance on exploration, scientific experimentation, and understanding the universe than we do on our politics, religion, or every day drama we will be a mature species.  It is through knowledge that we will know peace. And I truly believe that we can continue to learn all the way up to the final death throes of the last black hole remaining in the empty void that is our universe. Should we make it that long.

Every day we learn things that blow us way. Things we never thought possible. Things that reinforce the idea that truth is always stranger than fiction. So perhaps someday soon we can put aside our petty fighting and begin to seek new answers. To create an environment where we can all live and learn the ways of the universe together. It will be much easier, and much more enjoyable if we all work together.

E Pluribus Unum.

The Standard for Higher Learning

 

Education is a focal point in any society. What are we if we are not intelligent? Thomas Jefferson said "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty." Obviously, we want everyone to be educated and informed.

We have taken great strides to ensure that everyone gets an equal opportunity to inform and educate themselves. Are these measures working? Well, let's take a look at the few things we have accomplished. Public schooling has ensured a collective agreement on the spread of information. In fact, an organization has been established called the "Common Core" which seeks to ensure that curriculum is the same across the country.

Private schooling still exists, and even Home Schooling is still around to give us the opportunity to educate our children ourselves. College has taken it's place as institutes for higher learning. Going above and beyond the every day skills we need to interact with society and giving us education to work towards our dreams.

Colleges like MIT even spread their curriculum around the internet for free, in the hopes of a more educated world. Technical colleges teach trade skills that are vital for the infrastructure of our society. Despite ALL of these advancements to educate our people, are we really that much smarter?

It really all depends on how you look at it. Yes, we are smarter. There is no debating this fact when looking at the past. But are we as intelligent as we could be? I would say no. The problem comes from the lack of understanding when viewing education and schooling. As someone who chose not to go to college for many reasons, I am viewed by potential employers as less desirable. This is true even for jobs I would excel at given a little time and training.

This isn't a personal vendetta against the system, mind you. My problem lies in the fact that there are many other intelligent people out there like me who made a choice. We aren't stupid. Our actions show a vested interest in higher learning. Yet we are still seen as less intelligent to many because of our choice to not go to college.

And even those who DID go to college have little to show for it these days. Unemployment rates for college graduates is almost as high as it is for those who didn't go. A huge chunk of college graduates have jobs that aren't even in their field of study. There are a lucky few who have achieved what they want from their lives through college education.

The way we view college needs to change. It is NOT a pointless institution. It is also NOT a necessity. Not to mention, college may not be the best way for all of us to learn. Even still, I think it's important to take a good long look at the way the college standard is driving our society. Thankfully the internet is changing the game entirely.

Creating opportunity for everyone to learn so long as they seek it is what we need. Don't be afraid to get involved with the communities around your passion. Whether that's a hobby like sewing, collecting stamps, or wood working. Or even if it's what you went to college for(i.e. Quantum Mechanics, German Art in WWII, Economics, or Leisure studies), spread the knowledge around! Creating those communities is what will give everyone the opportunity to learn!

This is how we should view higher education. Not through an institution like college. 

Despite my political ramblings I think it's important to remember the reason I have them. It's no longer just about my discontent with the state of affairs, it's about getting people to think outside their comfort zones and looking towards the world as it is.

We cannot live in a world of people who are afraid to ask tough questions, and move through their discomfort to find the truth. Politics is the Anthropological equivalent of space travel. The human race as a civilized society is still infantile. The longest lasting "empire" has only been 500 years, and the views of how we interact with each other in the world have not changed much.

There will come a day when we realize as a species that in order for us to go beyond the discontent we feel for each other we must start seeking the best way to interact with each other efficiently. Religion is not the problem, political division is not the problem. The problem is our mind set towards humanity as a whole has not changed.

Perhaps it's time to take a good long look at what we believe, and the social norms we hold, and question whether they are doing us good. It's not an easy thing to think about, I understand. But we MUST think about them. The fact that we CAN consider these issues is amazing.

Just remember, we're all in this together. We shouldn't need a common enemy to fight. We shouldn't need a universal threat to bring us together. We should just understand the fact that we CAN band together to make our race great, is reason enough in itself.

E Pluribus Unum.

American Society: Intellectual or Primal?

Image Credit: http://goldendome.org/evolutionofman/

Are we a society of Intellectuals? Or do we still live on a Primal level? Well, let's stop and think about what Primal and Intellectual means. Primal can be referred to in societal terms as a collective that has placed an importance on solving the problem of basic survival needs; i.e. Food, Water, Shelter, Safety, and Reproduction. 

Intellectual can be referred to a society that has placed an importance on the expansion of their knowledge and ability to go above and beyond their basic survival needs towards new unknown frontiers. Now, we can definitely not define American society as a purely Primal culture. It would be a slap in the face of many around the world to say it was.

However, it also cannot be defined as a purely Intellectual society seeing as how a large chunk of our legislation and problem solving skills goes to social programs and the military. In fact, an abysmally small number of that government budget goes to education and scientific research.

This data is not to spark a political fight between sides! It is to remind us that if we were an intellectual society the issues of social safety nets, infrastructure, food, and agriculture would not vastly eclipse our educational and science efforts! Everything has it's place, and we can't ignore our other problems.

There is something to be said for gaining a balance, and creating opportunity for all to educate themselves and provide value to society. Is it not safe to question even this kind of policy? Is it not our civic duty to question whether we have the right balance of priority? 

Regardless of your political affiliation, it's important to question whether we are doing the right thing for our society. You want my opinion? Well, let's just say I don't think there is enough evidence of success to support our current policies.

We're all in this together. Remember: E Pluribus Unum.