My Book The People’s War now out!

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cover 2Well. I have released my novel on Kindle. Those of you who have been fans of my blog will definitely like this book. It is a fictional account of the Tank Man, who stood in front of the tanks after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. The novel tracks the lives of several people including the Tank Man himself during the protests. The People’s War also describes the turmoil during the protests and the struggle of the student movement to gain footing in the consciousness of China.

Find it on Kindle. Please, also, feel free to leave a review.

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First World Problems

Philosophy, Politics, Religion

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If it’s one thing I can’t stand to hear from someone is how some particular thing is “destroying our nation.”

Whatever it is, no it’s not. Our country is just fine. Lately every single politician, political movement, religion, atheist, communist, socialist, fascist, congressman, president, governor, mayor and the Post Office is destroying our country.

What exactly is so bad that some sort of harbinger has been unleashed declaring the end of the United States? Are we slugging it out in the streets for a top spot in bread lines? Do we face some kind of energy crisis? Are armed guards kidnapping random people in the night? Do we wake up to assault gun fire and mortar shelling every day like they do in Syria? Any genocide going on?

No. None of that is happening. We don’t have any REAL problems. We bitch about the political fighting in Washington, tax breaks for the rich, lazy people on food stamps, etc. But, I’m sorry, those are not nation-destroying troubles. Ronald Reagan’s Iran Contra scandal, George Bush’s recession, Bill Clinton’s philandering, George W.’s warmongering and Obama’s fight for his healthcare plan have not destroyed this country and none of it will.

Do we have problems? Yes, we do. The government spies on everything from our phone calls to our top scores on Angry Birds. Politicians on both sides lie about facts and use fear and anger to generate fervor among their electorate. Our economy at times seems to hang by a thread. The public denies scientists when they don’t like what scientists have to say.

But by and large, these things ARE being held in check. We still have our smartphones and our memes. We still drive our gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs. We still have McDonalds, buffalo wings and Pizza Hut. This Sunday our nation will sit collectively for five hours while we enjoy our annual descent into junk food and beer during our beloved Superbowl.

Can things escalate to the point that our country will be destroyed? Of course. But we’re nowhere near that point. The fact that we’re so much in arms about the NSA, political discourse, climate change, economic regulations, welfare costs and healthcare shows that we do at least care about what’s happening even if we keep electing 90 percent of incumbents in Congress who do nothing about it.

And I won’t lie, sometimes I get caught up in the drama of it all and join in the chorus of doomsday. But I think enough is enough.

I’m not saying we should never be worried. I’m saying stop it with the histrionics. Let’s keep our eyes on the realities of our world. There are countries with genuine war zones, food shortages, widespread disease and genocide. But it’s not our country. Our issues are, at the end of the day, first-world problems.

It’s the deep paranoia and the actions that people take based on that paranoia that can cause serious problems. But even then, that won’t be the end of us.

Non-denial Deniability

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When someone is executed, there is a system in place whereby the executioner is given some kind of pass for deniability. During a lethal injection, there are two buttons which two people individually push. One of the buttons controls the poison, the other is harmless. The killer is unaware whether the button he pushes is the one that kills.

Perfect system huh? The job gets done. No one knows who actually did it. All of them —including the condemned— can sleep with themselves at night.

People are their most dangerous in structured groups. Systematic violence is more gruesome because so many participate willingly or unwittingly. The military? Decisions are made to initiate battle, whether it’s firing on an enemy base or a kill mission. The captain who ordered the operation isn’t fully responsible for the outcome. The squad that carries out the order isn’t entirely responsible; they were taking orders. Ultimate responsibility could be directed to the generals who issue directives that the underlings are supposed to fulfill. The war in general can blamed on the governments involved. If those governments are democracies, then the country itself shares blame, right?

Kind of convoluted. At the end of the day you have a pile of dead people and no one person who pulled the trigger, pushed the button or swung the axe.

This model can be applied to other facets of sociology. Businesses, government agencies and the criminal justice system. Innocent defendants are found guilty. Corporations make deficient products that harm and/or kill. Hospital procedures sometimes lead to mistakes, killing patients. We’re all aware of these side effects.

There is a foundational evil to human organization in how we handle the unsavory yet necessary tasks of justice, war and repossession. Our structure can turn those into injustice, murder and theft. We know some of the things need to be done, but no one wants their hands dirty. Some of these heinous acts are a latent dysfunction of our organizational processes, yet we don’t want to do anything to stop it because it might require reform.

It doesn’t work that way. We can all think that we’re innocent and claim “I’m just part of the system. I am doing what I’m told.” Sorry, we know better. We just choose to ignore it.

We want to create a system where we are all innocent.

In reality, we’re all guilty.