Saturday, December 17, 2016

You Are As Old As You ...

Aging, the relentless march into senescence, seems to have gradually morphed from a scientific and philosophic certainty into more of an open question of late, at least as a scientific assertion.

(all above links provided by Brian Wang's Next Big Future)

Over the last year, we have learned how to treat some of the effects of MS, create a replacement heart for a patient, re-grow parts of different organs, grow blood from our own stem cells and produce large quantities of that blood, build replacement joint structures from living tissue for joint replacement, how to treat skin burns at a much accelerated rate of healing, how to create mice entirely outside a living body, how to replace damaged neuron cells in a living patient, how to create quantities of pluripotent cells from an adult stem cell source, and much else. It seems entirely unreasonable to believe this discovery trend won't continue, or that further developments won't result from what we learn.

Despite the regulatory burden placed on development of specific therapies up to now, it seems clear that these therapies will become available, either from within the health care system in the United States or elsewhere. From that it seems only reasonable to begin modifying our life styles so as to make ourselves into viable candidates for the treatments as they become available. Achieve and maintain a general level of physical fitness. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight and muscle/fat ratio. All the obvious things we are familiar with.

One form of technically (perhaps "technologically" would be better?) available therapy I think needs greater emphasis, is that of blood replacement with pluripotent stem cells derived from our own adult stem cells and introduced in a serum matrix on a unit-to-unit basis over an extended period of time. Perhaps 500 cc's of whole blood removed and replaced with an equal amount of pluripotent stem cell bearing neutral saline, every other week, for 20 weeks. The intended object being to reduce the presence of damaged proteins as a percentage of overall blood volume in an aged patient, and to infuse existing body tissues with young stem cells generally, thereby restoring at least some of the normal cellular function of a younger body to an older patient.

Even without benefit of specific genetic modifications, providing one's body with a supply of your own youthful stem cells seems likely to be of general benefit to extending healthy life span. I suggest that cancer cells being defective cells by their nature, they would not benefit from a procedure such as this, but that cancer development monitoring could easily be incorporated into such an extended time frame as suggested here. Should cancerous cells increase, stop the serum replacement and begin cancer treatment instead (since this would suggest the existence of previously undetected cancerous cells in your body before you began the blood replacement regimen).

I wonder if there aren't D-I-Y'ers out there doing something very like this already? It just doesn't seem all that technically challenging or expensive.

As to the philosophic issues; I suppose I'm too much a believer in the concept of Individual Rights to accept anyone having final say over me without my consent, or at least my passive non-aggression to such an assertion. I understand that there are many who are afraid of change, or of any perception of elevated risk/threat to themselves even indirectly, but I'm too well grounded in classical strategy precepts for that to be an option I can accept for myself. Every old (or young, come to that) gym rat is familiar with the mantra, "No pain, no gain". The strategic principle of "risk = opportunity" is simply a restatement of that same idea. To gain from a perceived opportunity, you must accept an elevated exposure to increased risk (pain).

By causing to be created (from a reputable laboratory source) pluripotent stem cells from your own adult stem cells, you avoid any risk of tissue incompatibility. Replacing a limited quantity of your blood with these stem cells over a controlled time span permits observation of results via available blood and other testing metrics (like for elevated levels of cancerous cells, for instance). Doing this repeatedly for multiple replacement cycles (I have suggested 10 cycles over a 20 week time span, mostly because it seems a reasonable framework to begin with - I am open to counter arguments on this point certainly) allows for recursive effects (that is, an effect in one area of the body to stimulate seemingly unrelated effects elsewhere) to develop within the body's cellular structure, thereby increasing the improved level of health one can expect to achieve from this procedure.

In order to still be alive to receive more refined (and hopefully genetically personalized) treatments and therapies, we must still be alive when they become available. Doing what we individually can to assure that eventuality ultimately falls to each of us, as individuals, exercising our individual rights of choice, and accepting personal responsibility for the outcomes of those decisions.

You know; adulthood?

At some point in humanity's journey into the future, we will all make just such choices as the one I have suggested here. I believe such a choice is upon us now, not next year, or next decade, or after someone else has put in sufficient work to make us feel less frightened.

It remains only for each of us to decide, and then act.  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Much Ado About "How Much ... ?"

8 years ago I wrote a post that linked to another post I had written some 2 1/2 years previously on the strategy of money. In recent weeks, the good people at Extra Credits on YouTube have addressed the same concept as a straightforward history lesson in a series of videos (the 6th, and presumably final, video still forthcoming as I write this). At the end of video #5 we are at the point of paper money abandoning commodity currency (refined gold and silver generally). This prompted me to make an effort to at least outline what I regard as the necessary final step to completing the strategy of money into the traditional closed loop of thought that Sun Tzu actually practiced.

I postulate that "money" is a purely intellectual concept, having no basis in physical goods or commodities. Indeed, that commodities serve to distort the money concept and inject malignant influences on its function. That being said, there still is needed a mechanism whereby transactional value can be derived against an immutable quantity (the function refined metals are supposed to fulfill).

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe (as far as human science can determine), and as such the possibility of "cornering the market" or any other type of currency valuation manipulation becomes effectively impossible. This aspect alone makes hydrogen a very suitable candidate for determining the relative value of a given currency. Consider ...

A single molecule of hydrogen can theoretically be converted to a known quantity of energy, which can in turn be expressed in a number of practical values depending upon how the released energy is expressed. A 21st century currency issuing entity (not necessarily a single country) is comprised, in part, of electrical generation capabilities, all of which consist of identical calibration metrics regardless of nationality, ideology or any other political or societal influence (Ohm's Law being just as universal - and effectively untamperable with - as hydrogen, as far as we can tell). The electricity generated, powers in turn a host of economic "value added" activities, if only the direct sale of electricity to another currency issuing source.

I propose that some measure of electricity (the erg perhaps?) be established as the baseline metric whereby any currency can be valued by any user. The issuing source (alright, this is becoming tedious - country hereafter) has a measurable quantity of electrical production as part of its domestic economy. This provides an independently measurable metric to determine a value for that country's domestic economy as a whole, against which the influence of domestic or international government meddling can be measured, and from which a unitary value can be derived for that currency against a known and fixed standard of measure. When this process is applied to other currencies, it makes comparative currency valuation a reasonably impartial (and importantly, more difficult to tamper with) process.

This resolves the intangible aspects of paper and digital money by pegging them to a known and hopefully immutable reference source, along with making manipulation of a country's currency much more detectable and thus defensible against.

Adopting such a system of currency valuation in the United States would seemingly not require a Constitutional amendment (see, Art 1, Sec 8, US Constitution, which explicitly charges Congress with the authority to  "coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures") (which also, BTW, effectively prohibits the dis-continuation of physical currency, whether coinage or paper, absent a Constitutional amendment IMO). As the United States dollar remains the planetary reserve currency, it can be expected that other countries would adopt this standard as their domestic political process allows.

Being my idea, I hope no one will be surprised at my enthusiasm for it. I'm also self-aware enough to know that there are undoubtedly a number of potential objections to the basic concept itself, whether theoretical or practical in nature. I hope to read and reply to those as I can.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Operations Within The Boundary Layers Of Stellar Impingment

A Stellar object is more commonly referred to as a "star", but what follows has absolutely nothing to do with celestial mechanics, astronomy or astrology.

Within military culture (not quite the oxymoron it is assumed to be by those who haven't been party to it), Flag Officers is the generic classification for Generals and Admirals, since officers at these levels of command sport their own distinct flag (commonly a small pennant or license plate type badge on a vehicle) which features the number of stars their uniform displays as a mark of their respective rank within their particular branch of military. In the US military, the Army (and by direct extension) the Air Force Flags are ranked one star to four star or more properly, Brigadier General, Major General, Lieutenant General and simply General. While the US Marine Corps Flag Officers use the identical designations, their structure developed uniquely from that of the Army due to their function as part of the US Navy, but for this essay's purposes the surface similarity will suffice. The US Navy only has three ranks of Admiral however, Rear Admiral, Vice Admiral and, Admiral. Much to the dismay of many a Major General, the Navy divides the rank of Rear Admiral into Lower and Upper grades, so it is not uncommon for a Major General to address a Rear Admiral as "Sir" when s/he actually outranks the particular Rear Admiral (Lower grade) being addressed (a minor point of confusion the Navy feels very little sympathy for).

That all having been said, this essay is actually about the general circumstance that might be most easily summed up as, "Notes on the Care and Feeding of Flag Officers".

There are a whole host of individuals and professional occupations designed to achieve this tenuous condition, many of whom can be characterized genericly as "Staff". Beyond these are the minor galaxy of others who work in all the ways major and minor, direct and remote from the Halls Of Power in which Flag Officers spend their work-a-day lives. This essay will over observations on the interface between those two extremes of military service.

Surrounding any Flag Officer is his (classical English usage here) immediate staff of Aide(s) and Orderlies. These are the people who keep their Flag focused on the task at hand, rather than life in general. In Army parlance, a General's Aides are commonly referred to as "dog robbers", in recognition of the dedication to duty they frequently display, to the (metaphor alert) point of robbing an actual dog of its bone, if the General indicates in some fashion he might desire the use of a toothpick. The Orderlies are those who keep the Flag's transportation, quarters, and wardrobe functional and presentable under the Aides' direction. All of which has it's own infrastructure as well.

Working in the Flag Officers Mess, for only one example, is an exercise in professional as well as political organization. The cooks and other kitchen staff have the to-be-expected occupational challenge of creating and serving nutritious meals that seriously over-worked flag Officers will most likely never pay more attention to than making sure they're not trying to fork up a mouthful of soup.
Which is not to say they don't appreciate all the hard work by so many; if the soup doesn't taste good it will be noticed. The simple assumption is that Flag Officers expect a base line of performance from those who support them professionally that is ... well, stellar.

The political organizational skills are called for when interacting with the Aides and Orderlies of a Flag Officer. Not only does the Flag Officer himself need to feel properly cared for, the staff have to feel the same way. This frequently creates opportunity(s) for friction between conflicting priorities.

One obvious conflict is that their particular Flag isn't likely to be the only Flag being served in the Mess. A certain amount of schedule shifting has to be expected ... and required in turn when necessary. This is one reason a Flag Officers Mess is usually so overloaded with senior personnel compared to any other dining facility (another reason being that occupational experience is also commonly expressed in the form of rank attained). This gives the kitchen personnel a bit of an advantage when some Admiral's orderly wanders onto the mess deck with menu advice or the like. The sheer number of Senior and Master Chiefs (and in an Army kitchen Warrant Officers) is sufficient to adequately whelm anyone under the rank of Commander/Lt. Colonel - and I'm pretty sure MacArthur was the last 4-star Flag Officer with a staff officer of that senior a personal rank. Anyone assigned to a Flag Officers Mess who isn't also at least a Chief Petty Officer/Sergeant First Class, would be well advised to very politely point out one of those august individuals to any interloper, then quickly fade into Doing Something somewhere else.

Basically, The Admiral and Mrs. Admiral can absolutely love your culinary skills, but if the staff have a problem with you, you have a problem, and the easiest solution for everyone else involved (who isn't actually Mr. and Mrs. Admiral) is to erase you from the equation. I don't care how great a chef you are, everybody else in the kitchen has their own set of knives too, and they wouldn't be in the room at all if they weren't just as good out on the edge as you are.

A great kitchen is much like a great Rock band or any other pressure-packed creative work environment, the normal work day is spent right on the edge of a major fight between the members. A great Flag Officers staff is usually an active conspiracy tip-toeing right along the edge of outright criminality, if that's what duty requires. Watching how these two organized chaos benders interact with each other must be truly awesome ... from a safe-enough distance.

If you should find yourself assigned to a Flag Officers Mess, or Staff, you need to keep in mind that someone in a position to know thinks you are smart enough to do the basic job, and are smart enough to learn the real job while you're doing it. In other words, you belong there. If you want to stay there however, you have to force yourself to focus only on the task at hand, at refining the skill set that got you there in the first place, to the point of routinely consistent, elite levels of performance.

You'll know you're almost there when no-one tells you what to do, just what is wanted next.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Welcome To Arkham Tumblir ...

... where the truth is just Crazy Talk.

Racism is much discussed in recent months (years?). There is a dictionary definition, of course, and pretty much anyone you might care to ask can offer up an example of what racism is to them.

But what is it really?

Consider this; racism is Elitist Ideology taken to the broadest possible human application.

In religion there is a Supreme Being/God/Gods, one (or more) entities that are the ultimate Elitist(s) humans have so far been able to imagine.

In actual physical reality here on Earth, human history is just crammed full of various examples of Kings, individuals held up as the penultimate example of human superiority over other humans, at least by those who personally gain in some way by enforcing that "fact" on everyone else.

In less prosaic terms, Elitist Ideology holds that the elitist is superior to others as an intrinsic consequence of being one of the elite. It is simply assumed that the Elite accomplish more and greater things than do other, lesser humans.

As there can be only one king at a time, so too can there be only one Most Elite at one time. Which is something of a problem for all the also-rans. Not surprisingly, there is fierce competition to be acknowledged as The Elite, and less surprisingly still a hierarchy of Elites as well.

Do you see the connection yet? Each level of elitists requires some group of lesser elitists to acknowledge their superiority. This necessarily dilutes the standards required for one to become acknowledged as being Elitist enough to have an opinion of another's elitistness (totally a word) to make a public opinion worthwhile amongst Elitist circles.

Eventually we get to the most common of social competitiveness, Common Othering.

Basically, anyone you can identify as being in some measure (usually of a determinedly ephemeral qualification) less than you makes you among the Elitist Class ... in your own opinion at least. The real trick here is to convince others (no, not those Others) that they too are part of your Elitist Class also, if only they will recite the mantra you provide them with.

The slightest difference in appearance (or manner of speech, or ... well, pretty much anything can be used to make an artificial distinction, can't it? It's in the nature of an "artificial distinction", isn't it?) is by far the easiest and most common example of human Elitists demonstrating their superiority over others.

And there you have it. Racism is Elitist behavior taken to the broadest application within the species. More simply put, a racist is someone who uses superficial, external distinctions to claim superiority over those who display arbitrarily Other superficial, external features from him/her self. Just as an aside, you can often discover how far up the Elitist scale people consider themselves to be by how immaterial they hold the lesser standards to be. The true Elitist often doesn't consider external appearance in gauging the status of someone else - unless there isn't enough difference between them otherwise, then ...

There is no racism, there is only elitist self-aggrandizement, practiced by those who have no actual achievements by which to be measured against others to determine a status that is, at best, chimerical and entirely external to one's actual character.

Strive to be among the elite at whatever you do, and to never be elitist about anyone, yourself most especially.

EDIT (11/28/2016):

While looking for something else I had written, I came across a post from September of 2012 in which I used the opportunity of a Tamara Keel post to examine elitism from a practical perspective.

Therein I linked to a 2006 post from Gary Gagliardi's old Warrior Class Blog in which I looked at the classical strategy aspects of elitism in a variety of human activities.

I consider Albert Nock's dismissal of "the uneducable" to be merely another example of Othering. By excluding any instance of individual success in improving one's status or condition in life that doesn't rise to the level of eliteness that Nock seems to require, it becomes very easy to simply shrug one's shoulders and ask, "What can one do?", and continue bewailing the lack of (presumably fellow) elites in the world.

As a final comment on the ramifications of elitism, a philosophical note to take away with you:
And here we come to my belief, my faith if you will, in the value of strategic science to the individual.
As defined by the science, we are each of us “alone” in that each of us is a unique and wholely separate position from any other’s. From that, the only way of evaluating and advancing our position is by relating to and forming relations with (alliances) other’s position. The individual can only and ever be a separate part of the whole. There is a profound sense of relief from the realisation that “I am alone” isn’t an expression of aberration; the only correct response is, “Well of course you are! And so are all of us.”

You are the only "you" there is. Opportunely, there are many other yous, each equally alone, and each variably available to join with you in some fashion, to some purpose. You will all still be alone, but you can do so together if you choose. That voice you hear in your head? It's only your echo. If you will listen to those other voices you can hear though, together you can make a lovely harmony. It's possible to lose your sense of alone-ness in the flow of the melody; perhaps doing so is somehow necessary to being a healthy human being. The only way you can ever achieve elite recognition is by contrasting your abilities to someone else's. If you aren't part of The Remnant, all you are is alone and totally ignorant of your measure as a human being.

Join the chorus.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

He Said? She Said? Here's What I Say

So, Donald Trump wants to be President of the United States, does he?

First and foremost, I think it only basic honesty to acknowledge that there is no public record of criminal rape charges ever being leveled against him. Which is not to say that several women haven't filed civil claims against him for adjudication. As is common legal practice in such circumstances, a settlement was reached by the several litigating parties in the two acknowledged instances (one involving the now-former Mrs Trump during their divorce proceedings and the other involving a husband and wife involved in publicizing a beauty pageant Trump owned), and there these matters are supposed to have ended. The fact these incidents remain matters of active public speculation is largely a result of Donald Trump running his mouth post-settlement from what I have read of the public record.

The more recent civil accusation against Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein is much more troubling. It is also a charge Donald Trump hasn't formally responded to yet, so any possible exculpatory evidence is presumably yet to be revealed. For the moment at least, it seems only proper to leave the matter to the courts for now. I think there is sufficient public scrutiny on the allegation that the legal process will proceed as it is expected to in this country.

For those who may be screaming at their computer screens about now, "You Trumpeter!", allow me to point out this slightly inconvenient matter of public record. Do please note the date I wrote that. Also, let it here be noted that the last time I voted for a Republican candidate was in the presidential election of 1984. Let it further be noted that Ronald Reagan did not fail to disappoint.

Because I believe in Due Process and the legal notion of Innocent Until Proven Guilty, I find it necessary, if only as an effort to achieve philosophical consistency, to stand behind those principles no matter how disgusting or trivial I may personally find anyone else's alleged behavior to be or have been. Even the behavior of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Political elections are, in there most fundamental sense, an exercise in the rendering of judgement as to the suitability of the candidates contending for the office, based upon those people's public record of accomplishment and personal character. Our judgement, as in We The People.

Should it become apparent at any point during that process of rendered judgement that any (pray never all, even if you are as agnostic on the topic of religion as I am, that circumstance truly would be politically catastrophic) of the candidates appear manifestly unsuited for the office, it is our duty as citizens to vote for some other candidate, however tertiary - or worse - their qualifications might in a more perfect world seem. This is not "choosing the lessor of two evils", it is selecting the best qualified candidate following due consideration of all of the available choices. Since no one can reliably predict the future accomplishments that might be achieved, we must necessarily make these judgements based upon the individual candidates prior display of character, to the degree we can reliably determine that to have been.

Rather than become incensed about this character defect or that previous action (or lack thereof), better I find to simply move on to the candidate that I judge to have fewest of the character traits I find objectionable. It has been my considered opinion that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are, simply as a result of their previous displays of unsuitable personal character, not qualified for the office of President of the United States. I encourage all of my fellow citizens to accept this circumstance and select the most qualified candidate for that office from those that remain eligible for us to vote for in 2016. Going forward, debate rightly ought to focus on our varied judgements of the remaining acceptable candidates qualifications for the office.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

He Said What!?!

Oh, the horrors ...

Or not.

Definitely "not".

So, 11 years ago (or there abouts - there seems to be a good deal of guessing about the actual timeline here), Donald Trump was on his way to be interviewed about some TV gig or other he had managed to get himself onto, and the "journalist" doing the interview sandbagged him about the microphones being on apparently. Or maybe The Donald was just that ate up with the hubristic stupid as to not care whether or not they were on.  Either way, he got recorded saying something pretty crass about the types of behavior "stars" can get away with. Not ever having been a "star" myself, I couldn't really say from direct experience, but having seen some pretty outrageous examples of public behavior by actual film and television stars over my lifetime (Dean Martin sloppy drunk and apparently trying out material for a late-night Vegas stage appearance on The Tonight Show when that was a live broadcast anyone?), I'm kinda surprised actual people found this particular example to be all that offensive (Sean Connery slapping some random American babe on her ass as she walks by on the street ring any bells anyone?).

Let's also be clear, I first became a US Navy sailor 45 years ago. Quite frankly, I can remember ... well, not conversations really ... call them verbal displays of one-up-manship that involved reputed incidents of inter-gender relationship behavior and much more crass and crude language than Donald Trump probably has ever heard uttered in his presence. Ever. Basically, Trump asserted a commonly held belief about celebrities as being true and, at the urging of the "journalist" you understand, proceeded to illustrate his point by mangling the Bowling Ball Joke. If you've been on Facebook recently, you can't have missed the rabid assertions of how this equals rape, or worse.

[See that search engine box in the corner of your screen? Type in the words "how are women like a bowling ball" for yourself. I mangle jokes when I try to tell them too.]

Fairly de riguer fare for The Friars Club, or so I understand. I've never been there either, sadly, so I couldn't say personally.

Don't get me wrong, a president, or even a presidential candidate, saying something this crudely in public is unacceptable behavior. The President doing so in private shows questionable judgement at the very least. That being said, some real estate guy playing up his reputation for outlandishness so as to invent a TV personality for himself to play in-between RE moguling (or more plainly stated, political rent seeking and tax farming)? Considering the moral level he was starting out from, we should all be grateful Donald Trump is this verbally lazy, if you ask me.

The American republic has survived alcoholics (Grant), flagrant racists (Wilson), and crass and crude boors (LBJ, Nixon) occupying the Oval Office before now; the country will likely survive Trump or another Clinton sullying the place again too.

Frankly, I'm more concerned about Barack Obama successfully getting us into a nuclear shooting war with Russia before the 45th President even has a chance to muff the Oath of Office. But let's all focus our attention on something said a decade ago, and get all outraged about what wasn't actually said while we're at it. The fact that I live over a hundred miles from any of the likely nuclear targets and their fallout patterns isn't as reassuring as you probably think it ought to be, given the Traitor-in-Chief's track record in office so far.

Monday, October 3, 2016

On Alliance, Part 2

Edit: Since there apparently exists an active opposition to even permitting discussion of the ideas I raise here on HEMA fora, this is published out of my sense of completeness and ease of future data retrieval.

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced the idea of an alliance between an established marketer of digital designs and engineering plans and the HEMA Alliance. Here I discuss to what end we might do so.

Over the last few years the generic rubric "3D printing" (which is actually referring to two separate steps in the design and additive manufacturing of objects) has become much more commonplace outside of science fiction novels as well as much more economically attainable to the average citizen. How do we who study and practice history become adepts at the bleeding edge of the future too?

Now comes Chris Byrne, former martial artist, former SCA fighter, former firearms manufacturer and repair specialist, former (still current?) NRA firearms safety instructor, banking (and other) industry network security administrator manager (he bosses the admins), cancer survivor, and current online instructor on computer network security. In private conversations, Chris has assured me that a 40 to 80 hour course of instruction would be more than ample to prepare an uneducated computer user to take and pass the Cisco CCNA 60 day course and thereby become employable in the computer network security field.

That's 1 month on the dole basically (two weeks of 40 hour days of prep training followed by two 30 hour weeks studying the CCNA course work), to go from computer network security zero to potential entry-level employable computer network security nerd. Or, you could be a more fully functional human and do the same over 4 months or so of evenings and weekends (9 nine hour weeks of prep studies and 8 eight hour weeks of CCNA). You could take longer of course, and probably should if you can afford to, but this isn't an impossibly heavy workload for such a limited period of time. You would then need to search out the location for the next scheduled CCNA test you can afford to get to and pay for to complete the process.

I haven't asked Chris to plot out a similar course of instruction for 3D printer operator (his next cancer surgery is scheduled for 29 September [edit: surgery went well apparently and he is progressing through the expected-to-be trying recovery process], so asking for any sort of time consuming favor is right out, as my Lincolnshire former in-laws would have said), but I can't imagine it would be that much more difficult to get into than the network security gig is. YouTube is loaded with videos about the subject. How hard can it really be?

That said, you have to ask yourself how reliable and accurate is your data source, and how specific is it to what you want to accomplish? Cue Michael Chidester here if there's any question regarding the critical nature of these questions. Having access to a course of instruction that takes into consideration the characteristics of the objects you are most likely to want to manufacture, as well as the materials you would most likely want to build with, would seem a useful attribute for such an instruction course to offer.

Were the HEMA Alliance Governing Council to negotiate with Chris' employer (or any of the reputable online instruction businesses that exist via the modern 'net) to develop a course of instruction for HEMA club members around the world to use to learn to make their own training weapons and safety gear, we in HEMA would have an alternative option to those that presently exist when it comes to gearing up. So, it should be pointed out, would our existing sources of supply gain options to expand their capability to meet our wants and needs. To complete our strategic Opportunity, we would also have a possible source of club (and personal) income going forward.

If the HEMA Alliance, in partnership with others, were to maintain a general database of digital designs and engineering plans for the membership to use (or license for commercial activity), we would have access to a source for individual construction of pretty much any HEMA-related historic object entered therein. By having successfully passed the suggested Additive Manufacturing Design and Construction instruction course maintained on the HEMA Alliance web page (whom we each would pay in order to take the course - HEMA is a non-profit, not a charity), we would learn the technical capability and design knowledge necessary to modify the additive construction process to incorporate personal variations to a generic design pattern. Our training gear would be both unique to us and uniform in structural design safety standards.

We would also have the means to contract with other businesses - large and small, local and international - to manufacture components for them. For the very modest fee our business agent Mr. Barzini, err ... the HEMA Alliance Governing Council will negotiate for us, of course (or at least arrange for a boilerplate contract form we could buy from them to use in contract negotiations with any company we might contract with).

No, we won't do this overnight, or even next year. No, it won't be anything like as easy to accomplish as this might seem to suggest - what of value ever is?

Discussion of plans is an inherent part of their development and improvement, so I offer here a suggested plan for we in HEMA to research and consider for development. No individual member, even a life member, should have the authority to decide such a complex and far reaching decision as that being suggested here. Thus, what I have suggested so far is at best mostly incomplete and lacking in many critical details.

In it's basic form though, I propose we consider arranging alliances and partnerships with those companies and individuals who can assist us in expanding our capabilities to support and extend our study and practice of HEMA, as generally outlined herein.

How say you all?

Monday, September 26, 2016

On Alliance, Part 1

We in HEMA are all too aware of the vast uncatalogued collection of historic arms and accouterments, along with the supporting documentation and instruction in its use, that exist in libraries, book stores, museums and personal collections that is known to exist around the world. The frustration we feel at our inability to translate so much of that into tangible items we can use is a near-constant experience. Those few items, swords mostly, that have been faithfully reproduced from historic specimens are, to be blunt, priced as the rare objects they are. The object of this series of posts is to suggest a means whereby we may alleviate that frustration, and quite possibly make a buck or two in the process, while at the same time safeguard our ability to continue doing so.

Come now Mr Marty Daniel and his company Daniel Defense, makers of components, and in recent years complete firearms, for the modular AR rifle platform. Some years ago now, Mr. Daniel began posting construction designs and engineering plans for 3-D construction of the components of an AR-platform rifle for sale to individual customers from his company's website. A recent court ruling has forced Mr. Daniel, along with others in the firearms and 3D, or additive, manufacturing industry to shutter his company's webpage link to online sales of "instructions and manuals".

I submit that this confluence of mutual interests presents all parties with a classical strategy Opportunity of such proportions as would make Sun Tzu himself drool, at least a little.

Daniel Defense is an established manufacturing business with a proven model for online sales of digital designs and engineering plans. HEMA Alliance, through its members, possesses a trove of historic designs for both (A) weapons that do not violate current legal interpretation regarding international distribution or personal ownership (yet) and (B) the safety equipment desirable for training and usage of those historic weapons in a regulated and competitive environment.

Were the HEMA Alliance Governing Council to contact Mr. Daniel and arrange a partnership between the HEMA membership and his company, he would benefit by rather quickly (12 to 18 months?) developing an effective counter-argument for his attorneys to beat the US State department over the head with in court ("Your Honor, here is 1001 weapons and armor designs and plans that don't violate existing law and treaty due solely to the age of the design. How can free discussion of improved versions of these historic designs not be regarded as being exactly the same under the law?"), while we in HEMA obtain access to modern digital design and engineering plans (which we can license at a discounted rate for commercial purposes, but have free access to for our individual personal use) of all of the historic items which we can identify and help translate.

The Devil is said to be in the details, and I will point out at least a few of those in Part 2. On a more philosophical level of discussion, I submit that if the US State department can decide on its own that enforcement of a UN Arms Treaty extends to individual purchase of weapon component designs and plans (speech), is it that much of a stretch of the imagination to suppose the same people might decide the same prohibition can be extended to less modern examples of weapons and their design and sale? If we cannot discuss historic weapon design, nor sell historic weapon replicas for training and competition purposes - without previously purchasing the requisite national and international licensing approvals to be international arms dealers - I think we would find ourselves confronted with the end of HEMA (and SCA, LARP, War of the Nations, etc) as a functional organisation on anything beyond the immediately local level of activity. Certainly all HEMA Facebook and other web pages would have to be shut down immediately, judging by the extant example cited above (cross-national border communication of weapons technology being the pertinent action the court has ruled against and the treaty forbids).

Maybe the Powers That Be won't notice us. Maybe they'll continue to look on us with amused condescension. Or, maybe, some "political activist" of the more direct action persuasion will pull off a more extravagant act of violence with a bladed weapon than has occurred so far in a street or mall somewhere.

Then, I suspect the regulatory hand may come down on us very hard. Or perhaps not.

Whatever any of our personal opinions regarding modern weapons (and firearms specifically) and protective armor might be, we need to do what we can to protect our ability to pursue our martial art and history research in as unimpeded a fashion as we can arrange. Arranging an alliance with an independent business entity that mutually benefits all parties seems a reasonable topic for us to begin to consider and investigate.

We also need to begin developing our ability to equip ourselves in a more dispersed and individual fashion.

More on that in Part 2.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Questions

Oh my soul is troubled, Oh my will is worn,

Tired and discouraged, trampled on and torn,

Every breath a battle, every step a war,

My heart a broken vessel, this night an angry storm.

When sadness crashes like an ocean, 

When fear is deeper than the sea, 

When I am swallowed by the darkness, 

Will you come and anchor me?

I cannot see through this, can you be my eyes?

I'm completely hopeless, can you shine a light?

I have no more strength left, can you stand and fight?

I'm dying in this doubt, can you be my faith tonight?

When sadness crashes like an ocean,

When fear is deeper than the sea,

When I am swallowed by the darkness,

Will you come and anchor me?

The Tenors

There is one who knows the answers.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

On Pain

I'm not certain now when I first heard the phrase, "Are you hurt, or are you injured?" Probably in some otherwise mostly forgettable football movie since this caliber of dialogue is pretty non-standard IRL. Or, maybe, this sort of question is more a reflection on just how non-standard my life has mostly been. Something to that last bit, regardless.

In any case, a practicing student of martial arts should be familiar with the distinction between the two conditions. And if this doesn't describe you yet, keep showing up.

Pain is how our bodies tell us we're doing something in a less-than-optimal way. In martial arts, feeling pain makes it frequently necessary for us to make a quick self-diagnosis between hurt and injury. The primary distinction I make between the two conditions is, does this pain require invasive (surgical) or restrictive (plaster of paris cast or neck brace for example) intervention by a medical professional for me to continue? If so, I'm injured.

Much of the time though, I'm "only" hurt. Hurt is a condition that a brief-ish period of recovery will alleviate sufficiently for me to continue with the practice/bout/game/etc. Allow me to illustrate by recounting a recent incident from HEMA practice.

We were practicing the basics of falls and rolls. Following a simple leg sweep (or trip), we were to fall into a rolling break-fall. I managed to land on the top of my shoulder in a very unglamorous pile of OUCH! instead. Due to my several-years-long relationship with my physical therapist (and there's a non-standard friendship for you), I am aware of the structure of the shoulder - I am, in fact, in the process of relieving an impingement (her word) of the ACL in the same shoulder (of course) - and discovered I still had basic joint integrity while I was un-piling onto my back by the simple expedient of using the same arm to move with. She, at least, will not be shocked by my choice of diagnostic technique.

The point being that it was immediately apparent to me that I was "only hurt" and not injured.

In our study of the historical treatises, it is just basic good sense to also make a study of the current best understanding of our own human anatomy (and never mind what the cutting edge thinking on matters medical was "back in the day"). Knowing how a wrist joint is structured, or the bones in the hand, would probably apply fairly directly to at least half of all HEMA-related injuries - and is pretty critical knowledge to making a self-diagnosis that won't get you sued for malpractice later.

By its very nature, HEMA involves experiencing pain - the hopefully modest pain of physical exertion, if nothing else. Having a conscious mechanism whereby we can categorize the nature and degree of the pain we will undergo seems a useful capability for us to develop.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Belief vs Knowledge

People mostly believe they understand what they know.

Take "Free Trade", for example. It's held as common knowledge that import levees, export duties, taxes and the like are contributing factors to measuring the degree of free trade between countries.

"Free Trade" is a myth.

Or more precisely, "Free Trade" is an arbitrary, hypothetical metric that establishes an unattainable standard of uninhibited trade between distinct market entities. Arbitrary, because there has never been a documented example to reference against. Hypothetical, because no one can describe how to realistically achieve such a transaction. Unattainable, because no transaction can be cost free.

"Free Trade" is a fictional economic standard to be forever striven for. As such, it serves as a mechanism whereby all trade can be comparatively analyzed to measure the relative costs of separate and otherwise incompatible transactions. From this, the actual transaction costs can be distinguished from the rest of the component costs that contribute to "value" (itself a largely individual standard irrespective of the item(s) being measured).

Free trade is also frequently a political illusion, served up to distract the voters from the blatant manipulations imposed on trade transactions by, or in response to, government.

Of course, if government went away with the morning sunrise, free trade would still be unattainable since all parties to a transaction would still have to exert some measure of expense in order to effect a transaction at all. Government makes sure the traders aren't the only one's to get something from the deal. Theoretically, in exchange for that added cost, government provides an independent recourse for dis-satisfied traders to seek recompense less directly than might otherwise be the case.

Because free trade is something people believe in, they think it must also be "real" in the same sense items being offered for trade are. Just because we know trade exists, doesn't mean we understand it.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

How Did That George Carlin Line Go?

"I stand here before you, completely behind you, ..."?

Sorry Gary Johnson, I had to stand with my DV Brethren and Sisteren on this one.

Catch you in November.

NBC Poll results

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Strategy Of Ideology

From my Facebook timeline.

In classical strategy, Advantage is pursued by everyone to advance one's Position (remember, Position is measured as a constantly varying relative value against other's, as well as your own, existing condition). A common technique used to achieve such advancement is Misdirection - saying or doing something in an apparent effort that disguises your own benefit from other's view (and the reason there really are essentially no "unintended consequences"). If you want to avoid imposing possibly misleading or simply incorrect value judgements on the actions of others - and your reactions to them, I recommend applying the above metrics to all aspects of your life.
Political ideology is rife with misdirection, both to gain and retain adherents as well as defeat the efforts of competitors in their positional maneuvering. The temptation to address ideological arguments in ideological terms is a two-fold mistake, you limit the structure of your own arguments to meet the assumptions of your opponents ideology.
The linked blog post below is an excellent example of a fact-loaded ideological argument that ultimately fails of its full potential due to the acceptance of the ideological terminology it confines itself to. That it succeeds to the extent it does (and I find the underlying observation inescapable personally) is testament to the authors writing skills:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

More Of That Away Game Activity

From my facebook timeline:

Fellow HEMA member Michael Sims posted a link to something by one Arnold Ragas from (the US state of) Georgia according to his post. I made the following comment there and think it worth claiming publicly with the minor caveat that I intend the following in the most positive way I am capable of (however poorly I may have conveyed that in the original):

"Can't say about skin, but we all wear our own stereotypes and see them a lot too. The biggest difference I have with BLM (or AARP or the NRA for that matter) is I don't go around crying about how my life isn't immune to all of that ... and you shouldn't either. Anyone who doesn't know you personally is going to be at least a little bit suspicious of you (and even if they do know you if their like my friends). We pay cops to be suspicious. You may suffer from your own stereotypical burden, but you ain't special that way so get over yourself and get on with making your life as successful as you want it to be."

This is the Arnold Ragas statement I was responding to:

"Sometimes my black life matters.
It mattered the day I was walking to my car at Lenox when I was ordered inside a police car until I sufficiently explained my purpose for being in the deck. My keys in hand provided no clue. It mattered the very next time I was in the deck and again ordered inside a police car until I again sufficiently explained my purpose.
My black life mattered the day I was helping someone move her furniture from her apartment to a moving van when several police officers pointed their guns at me until I sufficiently explained my purpose. Carrying a microwave to a moving van provided no clue.
My black life mattered the day I was looking through storefront windows and police detained me and questioned me until I sufficiently explained my purpose. It mattered further when I reached into my pocket for my wallet and they pulled their guns on me. My black life almost became matter on the pavement.
My black life mattered the day I was ordered inside a room at the DeKalb county courthouse and forced to explain my purpose. Being a lawyer wearing a suit in a courthouse provided no clue.
My black life mattered the night I was jogging in my Johns Creek subdivision when a police officer drove 5 mph and followed me for nearly a half mile until I finally and exasperatedly turned around and yelled, “What?!?!” My Nike shorts, shirt and running shoes provided no clue of my lawful presence. After all, I was running.
I never really thought of myself as a thug. I’m clean cut. Clean-shaven. No dreads. No golds. No tats. No sagging pants. Hell, I even own a pair of khakis.
But what do I know. Maybe I AM a thug. I graduated college but it took me 5 years. I graduated law school but I wasn’t top ten. I served 3 terms in the state House of Representatives but I never got more than 60% of the vote. I served 9 years as a judge but does Probate court really count? I’ve appeared on news shows as an expert on political and legal matters but my tie didn’t always quite match.
Or just maybe my skin is the sin and no accomplishment vaccine can inoculate me.
Sometimes I wish I could try on white skin. Not to keep; just to test drive for a few days. But moreso, I wish my white friends who condemn the black lives matter mantra could wear my skin. They’d probably cut the test drive short. They’d know what it feels like to be routinely viewed as a suspect instead of a person. They’d learn that black lives do indeed matter.
But oftentimes, for all the wrong reasons."

I'm a high school dropout. I joined the US Navy during the tag end of the Vietnam War because I didn't want to miss my generation's war. I labor under none of the lack of recognition for the really commendable accomplishments Mr Ragas struggles with, but nobody in or out of my life really gives two shits about any of my "accomplishments" either ... nor should they. We are all to some degree the sum of our accomplishments, but we are even more the product of all the really crappy choices we didn't make instead. The only people who are likely to know very much of any of that are we ourselves. Thankfully (I don't know about you, but some of that shit I didn't actually do but semi-seriously considered is really embarrassing, you know?).

Life's a lot of hard work, and we all ought to know by now what the real reward for doing hard work is: more work. Now that you've had a good snivel, Mr Ragas (and everyone else who feels the same way feel free to jump right in here), shake it off and get ready to go back to work. There's always going to be a lot more need's doing than there are those of us to do it. From the sound of things in your life, you could really help us out getting some of it done, too.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Let's All Vote At Them

Something that occurred to me while on another forum, what if the EU doesn't accept a Brexit "Leave" vote majority? It's not like we have to look very hard to find other examples of the EU rejecting a plebiscite they don't like - Ireland's numerous votes rejecting the Lisbon Treaty come easily to mind. I do have to say that I'm finding it difficult to visualize a British government capable of taking the Iceland approach to recalcitrant officialdom, so just how is the UK going to counter an EU siege of their island Castle? It's not like the EU hasn't already undermined the moat or anything like that; can you see the for-so-long-stymied hordes being released by France charging out of the Channel Tunnels on the British end of things? The acts of piracy on the contested fishing grounds of the North Sea? All those banks on Jersey being "invaded" by hordes of heavily armed EU cops and regulators?

The possibilities are rife, as they say, so I just don't see the EU politely taking their aspirations for world dominance (and the loss of all that British cash) and quietly giving up just because their British lackeys couldn't get this one simple thing right the first time 'round.

I'm not sure there IS a large enough pop corn supply for this show.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

History Matters

I've been flouncing around this idea for some time now; time to say something it seems.

Through much of the 1920's Germany was a battleground between numerous militant ideological groups, some of them actually German. Prominent among these were the groups generally lumped under the rubric "communist", who for the most part actually were an invading ideology from the not-quite-yet-established USSR. Countering this ideological invasion was a collection of mostly domestic German political factions, many of which were themselves socialist in nature, and the actual German government. The accepted history is that Adolph Hitler found employment with the German military intelligence establishment infiltrating many of these groups. By means obscure today, Hitler rose to legitimate political prominence by achieving control of one of these socialist political groups and "successfully negotiated" a merger with at least two others, resulting in the much-decried National Socialist Democratic Workers Party. And that's how arguably the raging flaming asshole of human history defeated an ideological invader and became a national hero. Briefly.

In related action, the leaders of the nascent USSR infiltrated their ideological invasion agents into the United States during the same time period. That invasion proved marginally more successful than in Germany in that no centralized opposition arose in the USA, but there can be no question that it occurred, as confirmed by the many former Soviet official documents that have become public knowledge in recent decades. The limited success these invasion agents achieved is of less modern importance than is the fact they developed many times their numbers of fellow believers and even more of those who achieve personal success by advancing arguments and beliefs long since disproved. This is an example of a successful change of a national political context.

Nearly a century of history later, we find ourselves targeted for ideological invasion by a different group of ideological activists. You know ... Muslims.

Human historical experience regarding ideological disagreement resolution doesn't offer much opportunity for a different process taking place this time, but one can always hope. And it is a process. A pattern of reinforcing incitements will continue to take place, many of them seemingly "obviously" unconnected (by those who don't take inspiration from them). And now that ideological conflict resolution process is blatantly occurring within the United States.

This promises to be a long, drawn out series of events dominated by more own-goals and blue-on-blue casualties than victims of actual attack, and that's not counting the casualties experienced by the ideological non-combatants of our attackers. There is no "enemy headquarters" to attack, the primary combatants make every effort to subvert our social and political structures against us, and there is as yet no widely adopted ideology specifically countering their beliefs for us to rally 'round.

Everything takes place in a context of events and beliefs. Hitler's "heroics" against communist invasion and domestic political success don't make him a good, or even arguably sane, man. People in similar-seeming circumstances to those from the "Good Hitler" days makes identifying with his actions and statements from then more understandable, but the cure for that is to improve the similar-seeming circumstances. New context leads to different beliefs resulting in different actions chosen. The trick for us today is to discover the means to arrange a new context for Muslims that makes their own "Good Hitler" ideological activists unacceptable to them. Good trick that, I agree, but it's what I've got so far.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

HEMA Thoughts

There have been several instances of HEMA members remarking on the politics and beliefs of others in recent months on HEMA forums and member's personal sites. In each instance, moderators of the various HEMA Facebook pages eventually resolved the discussions but were required to do so by repeated persuasions and/or ex officio diktats.

I believe there might be a better way to confront this circumstance in future.

A Proposed HEMA Standard:

Whenever any HEMA member believes the behavior or stated beliefs of someone involved with HEMA might be problematic, they should first seek to answer two questions on there own initiative before airing their concerns on any HEMA-associated forum.

First, "Is the person or group imposing their behavior or beliefs onto unwilling others?"

Second, "Are they infringing on other's study or practice of HEMA as a result of their beliefs or behavior?"

Unless, and to the degree, either answer is "Yes", then a problem with a measurable degree of objection and correction has been identified, and HEMA moderators should immediately be requested to resolve the potential for conflict.

To the extent the answers are "No", then a distinction of personal taste and social circumstance has arisen, and an assumption of HEMA neutrality is the appropriate response.

HEMA Alliance is an international organization, dedicated to the scholarly study and re-creation of historic European martial arts forms and practices. It is only to be expected that individuals or local groups from our many different country's of origin will find it necessary to motivate and structure their pursuit of our shared field of study by means different, or even unacceptable, to members from other locales. It should be remembered that beliefs and practices are frequently largely malleable responses to temporary circumstances, and that so long as the specific combination of these do not inhibit the free pursuit of HEMA study's and practice, they should be regarded as unrelated to HEMA.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Detour Ahead

Here in the Land of the Free, the Oklahoma Highway Robbery Patrol just got a helping hand to further their efforts at collecting the largess of others into a more easily distributed package.

It used to be the crooks were the one's without the badges.

I hear New Mexico is scenic.

When Reality Is Revolting, Forbid Reality

Charming. Political Socialism at its finest.

All of which leaves one to ponder; just how many lynchings happen in a setting convenient to a photographer "capturing the moment" (and the perpetrators) in the act? And in such numbers that the government feels compelled to "do something about it" - other than actually creating the conditions that aren't conducive to lynchings being considered a practical option in the first place, you understand.

Well, it could never happen here. Oh, wait ...

Monday, June 6, 2016

"Don't Do The Crime ...

... If You Can't Do the Time."

That's the famous aphorism isn't it? And, on its face, a sensible enough conviction; we all should be ready to accept the consequences resulting from our actions. In the case of our criminal actions, the courts determine our sentence and we ultimately fulfill that sentence will-we, nil-we., or so goes the theory.

And if we have been convicted of a felony and completed the decreed penalty, still we forever bear the legislative Mark of Cain as we attempt to return to the ranks of "good citizen".

Unless you live in the US state of Virginia (and only committed a "good" felony, of course), in which case you get some of your Constitutionally guaranteed rights (sorry about the video auto-start, blame The Atlantic) handed back to you. For the current voting cycle anyway; no telling what some subsequent Legislature and/or Governor will come up with down the temporal road.

The God Of Abraham may indeed be the vicious, cruel, and vindictive individual He is touted to be in the various editions of His Book, I hold to my more general Agnosticism on that topic too, but I don't think acting so on our own claimed Constitutional Authority is in any way consistent or even reasonably arguable. Unless you choose to argue from a basis of your personal fear and cowardice.

Can we take as a given that laws are, or at least ought to be, written so as to punish those duly convicted of violating them (and reasonably expected to inhibit committing said crime just by consequence of their very existence)? If that truly be the case, why do we think it such a good idea to impose a lifetime penalty as well?

If commission of a given action is deemed worthy of imposition of a period of incarceration (or "only" just a financial penalty), isn't it only honest and consistent with the stated justification for our having Constitutionally Guaranteed Rights (capitalized to drive home a point about the source of said rights) (for the record, I consider rights to be an intrinsic component of the human condition, regardless of any individual's viewpoint regarding how that human condition came into existence) that individual exercise of those rights be temporarily suspended pending completion of the duly adjudicated penalty imposed? If an action taken outside the law deserves a limited penalty, why do we insist on imposing a lifetime penalty anyway?

If you are afraid that some convicted felon might offer a threat to you just by his (or her's; let's not add sexism to your burden of justification too) very existence, maybe the more logical, not too mention effective, method for you to pursue is to increase your individual defenses against anyone doing you harm. Because we all only have to look at incarceration rates to recognize how effective a deterrent criminal laws are, don't we?

I also abhor the petty politicization that Virginia's recent restitution of certain civil rights has taken, but I also recognize the strategic inevitability of that occurring. I just happen to believe that making "good citizenship" an easily achievable standard works to all our better long-term interests as a nation built on the exercise of individual human rights.

What's your excuse?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

It's All In The Timing, Phil

A couple of years ago now, Phil Bowermaster organized a project involving contributed ideas from others; the below is a re-wording of my suggestion that didn't make the submission cut. The principle objection I can remember being raised was, in so many words, "Why would Jeff Bezos do any such thing? What's in it for him?" What seemed a foregone conclusion to me then, wasn't at all obvious to Phil (or anyone else, come to that) a year-and-a-half ago. With Jeff Bezos' recent announcement regarding off-planet production and heavy manufacturing plans, I'm prompted to dust this submission off, re-tool it in ways large and not-so, and see if anyone notices. Herewith, My Proposal:

How Jeff Bezos Can Hire Humanity.

[last edit made to this document on January 14, 2015 by Phil Bowermaster]

The basic idea being suggested here is that Jeff Bezos (of fame) spends the money necessary to develop an online game quite similar in concept to that developed by the US Army to teach potential recruits the conceptual basics of soldiering competencies.  From the Americas Army wikipedia page (, details of the game’s progression to gradually more difficult actions and capabilities needed by the individual player suggests a model for how such a game format could teach players how to successfully conceptualize, operate and/or maintain complex machinery remotely, both individually and in coordination with other players.  One possible mechanism whereby players could test their skills development would involve modifying at least some warehouse operations to permit remote operation of material handling and loading machines (basically modified fork lift trucks). By performing stipulated and rigorously measured portions of the functions of that company's order fulfillment operations, in cooperation with the on-site human staff already locally employed, a real-world process development laboratory could be created at little added expense.

As the Americas Army game experience makes clear, it becomes a fairly straightforward (if by no means easy or cheap) development process to create a game format that applies the same compendium of instruction concepts for use within progressively more complex and radical environments.  Like underwater archaeology and marine salvage.  Like air, land, sea and even extra-planetary search and rescue operations.  Like orbital clean-up operations in association with other private companies as well as government extra-planetary agencies. Like orbital mining and refining operations (not to push the point too hard).  Like lunar (or undersea) exploration and development.  Like orbital construction and tourism.  Like continued exploration and colonization of Mars and other orbital bodies within our Solar system.  As a straightforward extrapolation of related-seeming technologies, exploration and resource acquisition operations in the asteroid belt might be developed from terrestrial undersea or deep underground mining operations skill sets learned in the game.  

In the near-immediate time frame: universal language translation programs developed by a consortium of bi- or multilingual individuals working remotely through dedicated server and data storage devices managed and marketed within the game environment.  Physical security monitoring and response operations so that individuals can be employed to remotely carry out traditional security observation and emergency response tasks on a continuous basis and, not incidentally, earn a living through the game environment while developing their more technical skill sets.

The game would be structured in several layers of play experience.  The initial level would test player skill and general knowledge levels and supply the means to begin further developing those through game interaction.  By doing so, players can “teach themselves” to transition to the next level of play.

The second level would offer individual players the means to transition from simply playing the game, to performing game functions in an occupational setting.  Initially these would be in the Amazon test-of-concept order fulfillment center or the security services suggested earlier in this document, but these and future players would move on to other, more technical, types of work as quickly as their ability permits and opportunities can be made available.  These opportunities do not necessarily require a purely business motive; scientific research and public service operations both come readily to mind as alternative possibilities for player development through remote operations performed through the game interface.

For those players who wish to develop a more general academic knowledge base, the game interface could be linked to any of the host of online education portals that exist. Documenting continuing education is already part of corporate structure, incorporating that into the game format shouldn't pose too excessive a problem. Additional, more specifically focused, levels of play are certainly possible, but itemizing a list of that nature exceeds my limited editorial skills. Suffice it to say that I envision the game process described here as being a species of digital skilled trades hiring hall and training school to develop the host of technically skilled employees for an industry that doesn't actually exist yet that Jeff Bezos will be needing to hire around the world to remotely construct and operate the orbital facilities he has described elsewhere. Ultimately, all of the above tasks (and more, I'm confident) performed by humans, working part time on multiple projects and jobs, in remote cooperation with as-yet uncountable other humans, designing, building, operating and maintaining machines and facilities big and small for use in every conceivable environment that human science enables human or machine access to.  And all of those people working directly for, or as a result of being trained by, Jeff Bezos (well, one of his companies).

Alternatively, we can just sit around between rioting stewing in our frustrated juices, watching the planet's accessible resources be further consumed, while we await the promise of fusion AI to save/doom us all.

While I envision this type of work being comfortably performed from a space in one's home smaller than an ordinary American bathroom (about 15 cubic meters or so - 2 x 3 x 2.5 meters roughly), one of the obvious early investment and partnership opportunities arising from such a planet-spanning effort is construction of a location in local neighborhoods that provides the residents with a game participation site outside their private home or apartment. There seem to be a number of vacant former book stores available for re-purposing in recent years.

One of the most pressing challenges humanity currently confronts is how we will collectively transition out of the undeniably collapsing Industrial Revolution social and economic model we currently experience.  The game concept presented here is one possible mechanism for achieving that transition on a widespread and minimally disruptive basis.  It remains only to develop the platform necessary to spark the growth of that process throughout the human species.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Strategy Of Politics

From my Facebook page:
Let's add some Classical Strategy to our politics, if I may (besides, to quote the Inimitable Tam, "I hate to waste my good stuff on an away game")?
Let me see if I've got this right; half of Democrats are against the other half's choice of candidate, more than half of Republicans are against Donald Trump, but we can expect both party's registered voters to vote in monolithic block lockstep, right?
Also, what part of the New Media/We Are The Media aspect of blogging/vlogging/twitting/facebooking/whatever-you-call-it denies us (you know, the non-traditional media people) the opportunity over the next five months to organize and promote a campaign around an alternative to the oh-so-distasteful R/D candidates on offer, and their same-as-usual policies?
We (and our candidate/policy choices) don't have to be "best", or even all that much "better" really, the distinct difference of choice - the almost mythical "valid alternative opposition vote" - is what is being promoted most prominently.
"Never Trump", "Hate The Bern", "Crooked Hillary"; that's a lot of opposition to offer a chance to vote against what they don't want.
Or, we can all whine at each other about how inevitable the end is.
A strategy combines several often seemingly unrelated circumstances into a coherent (and when possible unrecognized) succession of actions toward a desired goal or objective. Like, say, taking the Democrats opposed to whichever candidate gets that party's official nod along with the Republicans opposed to the Trump campaign and encourage them all to "vote against" the despicable candidate being forced upon them. Since we can't actually vote "No" for public office candidates in American elections, that means we have to promote a different "Yes" for them to hate less, and give them a reason to want to "wait for next time".
This strategy needs a recognizable opposition candidate (and thanks to the Libertarian Party, Gov's Gary Johnson and William Weld are right there for us to organize around), and a very few specific national policies to focus on that will permit a campaign of "stabilize the country/economy while not actively making things worse", with the D/R campaign's policies being the obvious "worse" alternative. A focus on a "keep what we got while we take the necessary time to choose what else we want" campaign theme will permit traditionally non-libertarians the conviction they are defending the country from the rash choices of the other candidates without committing the country to a "wrong" course of action (since stability can be argued as a kind of pause in the action, as it were).
I am more than a bit doubtful that a Johnson/Weld Executive branch would have all that much of a free hand in too-radically changing current domestic or foreign policy, given that the Congress will still be firmly in the control of one or the other two parties. A Commander-in-Chief with little-to-no interest in a militarily aggressive foreign policy would have to be convincingly swayed by the military service chiefs of an extant threat before a military option would be authorized in all likelihood, and such a President would also seem likely to seek Congress's overt approval before taking more than short-term defensive action. I fail to see a serious downside politically for the dissenters in any of the three parties involved (given that the LP basically IS the Dissent Party).
I can just see it now; Vox Day and the Alt-Right partnering up with the Mainline Republican and Democratic Party stalwarts, while the opposition Democrats and Republicans self-righteously hold there noses, all in an effort to make sure none of them gets what they want politically. If we The Interneteratti (and I claim that even if it isn't particularly original) can't make political hay from all that while setting up having a good laugh come November, then we deserve the cut cheese being plated for us by the Powers That Be.
I have to admit, this isn't particularly insightful nor is it especially daring, but it serves to illustrate the profound lack of individual vision and critical thinking skills that seems rampant these days. If you don't like what the world presents you with, apparently we should all just sniff and snivel our way into supine acceptance rather than make things more the way we think is right. The above may not be all that good a way, but it is at least a different way.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

My Hobby; My Rights

Anyone in the least familiar with the discussion surrounding the general topic of "Human Rights" (see also: Civil Rights) will likely be aware of the distinct viewpoints regarding whether, or possibly to what degree, rights are an individual or collective phenomenon. My own belief is that this dispute arises mostly as a result of a general lack of mutual understanding about the nature of rights.

Human rights are an inherent component of the individual human condition. At their most basic conceptual level, human rights devolve from the principle of "right to property", or the idea that we each of us inherently possess the right to ownership of our individual selves; all rights are extensions of this fundamental principle. Thus, rights are both individual and universal among human beings. The generally misunderstood part of all this is that rights are also limited in the means and degree to which we may each express or exercise them in our collective existence within human society, if only as a necessary precondition to there being such a thing as "human society" at all.

I am a recent life member of Historical European Martial Arts Alliance, and, here in Tyler, of East Texas Historical Fencing. As a HEMA member, I am a practicing martial artist (with a, to this point, somewhat theoretical scholastic bent), and like all such I own weapons (though it must be acknowledged that, as an American living in Texas, it is only to be expected that a goodly number of those weapons are only notionally "historical") (cough/NRA member/cough). To own such is a direct extension of my inherent human rights, but the active exercise of my right to such ownership is constrained and infringed upon by the self-same inherent rights of all other members of human society with whom I inevitably interact. To quite cheekily paraphrase: wherever two or more of ye shall gather together, there too is society.

Having determined that rights themselves are an entirely individual experience, it remains universally true that ownership is distinct from use. A martial artist cannot use the weapons being studied without regard for others, and neither can ordinary human beings use (exercise) their rights without regard for other human's exercise of their rights. Much like the United States is made up of 50+ different ways to collectively exercise individual rights, the Earth is comprised of (what is it now, 168?) many different ways for societies to organize the collective expression of individual, universal human rights. HEMA Alliance being international in structure makes this realization an everyday experience for we individual members in our efforts to interact with and learn from each other.

The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution stipulates in part: "... shall not be infringed." This is a specific limitation on the federal (national) level of government within the cooperative construct between now-50 individual States, and demarcates the legislative boundary of the several states internally, but has no direct application to individual citizens therein. One of the foundational assumptions to creation of the USA was that governance of human society ought to be the minimum necessary collective balancing of exercise of each individual human's rights within the boundaries of a stipulated society. Providing express limits on how and why government may limit the exercise of human rights has the intended benefit of maximizing individual opportunities to use the rights we all own.

HEMA designates procedures whereby stipulated persons may regulate and, when necessary, infringe upon individual members exercise of their human rights within the collective HEMA society. Would the "real world" had it so easy. Instead, we tiredly trudge our collective way through often-obstinate individual efforts to achieve short-term, personal goals using methods having long-term, wide-spread consequences, but which are in themselves arguably legal. In HEMA (as in many other physical activities), we wear protective equipment to prevent individual injury from our or another's exercise of weapons. In life, we find ourselves having to resort to the law should there be injury resulting from the exercise of our rights. If I only get to have one or the other, I'll take the second option every time. Fortunately, door #2 includes the possibility for HEMA membership, so it has that to recommend it.

How well or honestly any given example of human society achieves the laudable goal of equable exercise of human rights is beyond the confines of this essay, but if I have managed to add some clarity or understanding to the practice of my hobby or my philosophy then I will not have wasted either of our time.