Monthly Archives: November 2012

Handling Things the Mature Way

My Friends,
   I have a real problem with being overly argumentative.  I am in fact horrible at conveying messages to a crowds which are not predisposed to liking what I have to say.  This is a real problem for me because I think I have some good shit to say.  At the very least I have some less cancerous shit to say than some people I know, all things being relative.  The most glaring manifestation of this argumentativeness and poor communication is my tendency to get embroiled in Facebook threads which devolve into flame wars real quick.  Its not because I hate the person, or so much that I object so much to their initial comments or posts (well, sometimes its that), but very often its how people rationalize their opinions when challenged (and I use rationalize in the loosest sense possible).  I think it bothers me when people don’t do thought experiments with their opinions, extrapolating premises out to the nth degree to see if they still hold water, or attempting to rationalize these ideas within a larger global picture.  And when you try and have a discussion with someone who is in a box like this, their truncated frames of reference and ideologies invariably lead to misgivings and resentment.

   So yeah, this cognitive dissonance is a very real problem for me, someone who operates on the foundational premise that that the more logical argument should prevail.  But in a slow, stubborn way I am becoming more and more aware that such arguments shant prevail if one is sufficiently determined not to be swayed

“Traditional sentiment is constantly in conflict with emergent knowledge” -Peter Joseph, “Defining Peace”

I don’t want to pull punches because if I can’t be brutally honest here then I can’t be honest anywhere, so I will say that as of late most of the head-butting I have been doing has been with buddies of mine from the army who post some super-moto, gung-ho shit, jingoistic tripe about Canadian pride, or bellyaching about how veterans don’t get enough respect.  I can’t stand shit like this but then I can’t stand a lot of things.  Interestingly though I see myself in the position of being able to call them out on their bullshit while being able to take their main bullet out of the chamber with regard to a rebuttal: “Yeah, well why don’t you try doing a tour of duty and then come say that.”
   Lol, been there done that and I’m still calling you out.  And just when I think that my street cred might actually mean something to them and that they might take my point of view seriously because I have gone through what they have gone through, they find some other ad hominem attack to go with which invalidates my points of view in their eyes.  Its very frustrating, but its a lesson which more or less jives with my view that you should consider the message absent the messenger; frankly I wouldn’t want someone to consider my views simply because I have shared a certain struggle with them, or because I have a certain credential in their eyes.  This type of selective attention seems to be the primary way in which we go about things today and its effects are mostly negative.  Don’t get me wrong, credentials have importance in many regards, but they should only serve as the cherry on top of a soundly-reasoned hypothesis-sundae, not the sundae itself.
   So anyway, I have as usual gone on a tangent.  My intent here is not to do a critique of the way knowledge is done (I find I do that far too often as it is), but to explain the way I am handling the inane bullshit and drivel I frequently encounter on the Facebooks.
   But first, a brief outline of the things which either cause me to comment rashly, face-palm hard, or ask myself, “Why am I friends with this person?”  
1. Super gung-ho army shit, jingoistic fervor and the aforementioned bellyaching that veterans don’t get respect.  While I do believe that the state entity is entirely responsible for taking care of any wounded (phsysically or mentally) solider and his family, I am more talking about this idea that John Q. Public doesn’t give a fuck about the military.  I am not sure where this comes from; maybe some people saw a disenfranchised Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump and feel his pain a little too acutely, but I can say that in 9 years of service I never had anyone say a sideways thing to me.  In fact they were all smiles and Hallmark cards, thanking me on the street, telling me how brave I was, etc.  I can’t speak for other countries but at least here where I’m at, the veteran is more or less revered.
2. People who post the most pathetic and desperate aspects of their daily lives for….I don’t know, pity maybe?  This shit gets old but there’s not really much you can say to someone who is complaining about how sick they are all the time, how exhausted they are, how much their kids cost, how tight money is, etc…  These are touchy subjects and unlike people with dumb opinions I don’t see any glimmer of hope with regard to helping these people come around.  As such, I never really comment on these posts, I just kind of cringe to myself.
3. People who make too much of politics.  Perhaps this one baffles me more than it should.  After all, I voted in the last federal election.  But hey, we all do stupid things when we’re young.  I get that it takes time for some people to realize that non-participation is the best route to meaningful change, and not established processes like voting, and many others never realize this at all, but knowing this still has not afforded me the patience I should have.  When someone posts something about how the Liberals are really shitting the bed and how the Conservatives would handle things better I will typically ask the poster something like “Do you think who’s in office really matters?” assuming that like me, they will look back to the chain of contrived causality which leads to a partisan system,  various offices and of course the media circus which ostensibly handles things with the highest journalistic integrity (wink wink).  But no, they take my question at face value and respond, “Of course it matters….”
4. Championing minority rights, a particular disease’s cure or the plight of a small nation by advocating the use of established, in-the-box resolution methods and not considering the root cause which lead to these problems.   With regard to minority rights, I think helping the black man is great, but if you try to help the black man by trying to help the black man you’re only going to piss off the white man, the brown man and the yellow man.  There are no minority problems, there are human problems.  We gotta start implementing solutions that help everyone and this might mean trying some new things and abandoning others.  This same logic applies to curing diseases.  I think a lot of people don’t really know how disease and addiction are fomented and thus believe there is a way to handle each related problem on a case by case basis.  Or even trying to “help” a country without giving it the means to help itself.  All of our solutions are not solutions at all, but ways of stroking ourselves to make us think we aren’t part of the problem.
   So anyhow, these are just a few of my favourite things.  And my master plan to avoid the frustration and rage that comes from being subjected to these inane ramblings every time I log onto the Facebooks?
   Unsubscribe.  This shouldn’t be that revolutionary to me because I have indeed directed friends of mine to unsubscribe from me when they complained of how their own news-feeds were full of updates whatever flame war I was embroiled in.  But I can actually feel waves of relief over me when I do this.  Its so satisfying to scroll through your news-feed and repeatedly lament the absence of a dislike or downvote button.  
   To be clear I haven’t unfriended these people as in most…all cases I still like them.  I just don’t wanna hear their stupid, tired, unrationalized bullshit every time I log on.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Six Week "Adventure" Recap: Part 2

My Friends,
   When last I left you I was relating the events of an altercation I had at Toys R’ Us prior to Halloween.    Well although I managed to purchase the Batman mask I sought, I left not entirely satisfied with how events went down because I was far too adversarial.  I didn’t realize how bad I felt however until…

I Went to a Meditation Class
 
   Yes, one class.  And I should have done my homework better beforehand because what I thought was going to be a two-hour guided meditation (fun, right?) turned out to be an hour long Buddhist wisdom class, followed by Q&A, followed by a comparatively brief meditation.  Now, to clarify, I have nothing against Buddhism per se, but I am suspicious of any -isms in general.*  However, I have learned that apprehensions and prejudices should not be allowed to detract from the passage of actual knowledge; you must scrutinize all information without reference to the messenger.
   So I listened to the teacher talk and actually asked a question or two, and whether from Buddhist enlightenment or from his years lived on Earth, he showed me some small insight into a problem I face in my own life.  It was actually kind of refreshing to talk with someone who thinks about things as much as I do, or at least the same kinds of things I do as much as I do.
   Also, I found the guided meditation helpful; while I didn’t make very good account of myself on the astral plane due to my earthly, flesh vessel’s inability to get comfortable I did pick up a small breathing technique which I have employed since.  And of course, I mentioned that the session made me ruminate over my encounter with the Toy R’ Us manager the week before.  I actually got very upset about it (read: I cried) when I mulled it over in class.  This guy was a brother of mine and I wilfully set myself in opposition to him because of my arrogance.  In a very real way I had done violence to him and I don’t want to do violence to anyone.**
   I called him up the next day (he remembered me, surprise surprise) and we talked.  I made it clear that my feelings about rules in general notwithstanding, I had been too adversarial and put him in the lamentable position of having to flex nuts (prove his manhood).  He appreciated my call and explained that he hadn’t been trying to profile me.  I listened politely but I wasn’t really interested in talking about the profiling aspect because the real issue was the presumption of guilt implied in a “NO BAGS” rule.  We made peace and said our good-byes but to be honest there was no resolution for next time I go to Toys R’ Us.  I guess it will be up to me to achieve mutually desirable outcome.

So Why the Disdain for Rules?

   Have you ever wondered why a rule applies to you?  I think most have not?  Certainly many have questioned the arbitrary natures of the rules, regulations, statutes, and codes, the creation of which seem to be the sole prerogative of so-called “authorities,” but I think most are of the mindset that such rules, at least from governmental sources, apply to them, justifiable or not.  I have begun to question this mindset and actually study said rules and the flagrant violators of them.  This may be old news to some but there is actually a group called Freemen on the Land in Canada (Sovereigns in the US) who reject the authority of the government and subscribe instead to a do-no-harm mindset.
   While that brief description certainly colours the groups as out there or crazy, they actually speak a lot sanity: they propose actually reading the acts/codified law-books which we all subscribe to without knowing if they apply to us; a large part of the movement is knowledge of self and realizing that we a divine beings whose freedom can not be taken, but must be handed over willingly (we do this everyday if you think about it); and of course a large part of the movement is responsibility, because our criminal codes are meant for those not responsible enough to comport themselves like adults.
   “No” you say?  Our codified laws apply to all?  Well think about it like this, if you don’t work for a corporation, say Pfizer for example, can you be expected to adhere to Pfizer’s employee rules & regulations?  No, you can’t.  If you are not the employee or agent of a corporation its rules do not apply to you.
   So what if I told you that our government is a corporation?
   “Sure” you might say cynically, “Government is just a business. Everyone knows that.”  But there is a way in which people make these observations absently not actually seeing the truth of their words or the implications.  Sure, government is a business but its still a legitimate institution dedicated to the management of the state entity.  Well…

Entering “Stephen Harper” in the search field.

The list of businesses by that name.  Notice the last one.

Should you ever wish to do business with the Government of Canada corporation, you can order its credit report from D&B to make sure they pay their on time.

I pulled that screencap from Dun & Bradstreet which is a credit database for every registered corporation.  It turns out that our legitimate government is provably a business instead of the democratic institution most believe it to be.  So at election time we are simply electing a new CEO.  Going back to the government’s so-called rules or “laws,” if you actually look at the 6,000,000+ legislative acts which have been passed in North America, you will notice that they dictate statutes, sections and regulations as opposed to laws proper although there is a persistent tendency to use the blanket term, “law” to describe the rules outlined in such acts.  Any so-called law which you at one time or another felt was unjustified because violating it didn’t hurt anyone was probably not a law at all, but a codified law or statute, applicable only to persons/corporations.  You on the other hand are a human being.
   However, another aspect of the movement is taking control of your legal person/government given identity and using it as your tool of commerce by acting as the agent or administrator of the identity assigned to you.  Its not YOUR identity after all, its the government’s identity (ever notice how any ID card always says that is the property of the issuing body?), which is why they can charge that identity with legal infractions.  And as long as you ignorantly agree that you are that identity, they hold you culpable.  But if you separate yourself from that identity (and there are ways to do it) and realize that you are not a legal person (and this is where knowledge of self comes in) you begin to realize the presumption of so-called authorities who have the audacity to think they can tell you what to do and that you’re guilty.

“Man is free the moment he decides he is” -Unknown

   There is a lot more to say about the sovereignty/freeman-on-the-land movement but if you are interested in finding out more the most common starting point seems to be the E-Book, “How I Clobbered Every Bureaucratic Cash-Confiscatory Agency Known To Man” by Mary Elizabeth: Croft but I have found that the youtube videos by Robert: Menard very enlightening.  As an added bonus, if you compare his original unedited interview with the CBC to the snippets they used in their heavily biased expose on the freemen movement, you will see that the CBC is not the bastion of credibility and journalistic integrity most Canadians assume it to be.
Note: I have brought this concept up to a cop friend of mine and he responded with insults and denial.  Call it a case of seeing what I want no matter what, but I found this hostility very telling.  
So Why the Meditation?

   So I have been meditating.  Its partly because I want to relax.  Its partly because I want my self to reach a contemplative state where I can ponder things absent my ego.  But mostly it is because UI wan to increase my vibrational frequency to the point where I transcend this dimension.

But srsly though, I am not what you would call a superstitious person and I certainly don’t believe in the supernatural, but I do think we must expand our definition of natural to include things which we may not understand or which mainstream science has yet to deal with.  After all, if it can happen, its natural.  And certain metaphysical ideas which might be popularly viewed as psuedoscience actually have a solid empirical foundation.  Of course, due diligence requires that a critical thinker not take solid foundations and make leaps of faith from them.  But when a plausible causal chain is shown to exist that can be put to test, any critical thinker has a moral imperative to experiment for themselves.  And that’s kind of what I’m doing.  I find the science behind consciousness, meditation and dimensions very interesting and I think it is an aspect of our existence which has been lost in the daily grind.
   I can’t really go into the depth I would like to here because RECAP implies brevity, but if you would like to know more check out Spirit Science, the Heart Math Institute and lectures by Dr. Nassim Haramein.  For those who don;t know Dr. Haramein he is a bit of a polymath, but he is mostly known for his contributions to physics.  His biggest contribution thus far seems to be solving the Grand Unification Equation…

…which was being worked on by this guy before he died.
   Well that’s all for now.  Unfortunately I had to type the last part about meditation again because I deleted it this morning while tired after publishing the post last night.  So if you read it last night and are for some reason reading it again, I hope the rewrite retained the original magic of what was lost.  
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo  
 *To reinforce this point, during the Q&A, another student was asking the teacher about clearing your mind of conceptual thought when attempting to meditate.  The teacher explained that the so-called “emptying” of your mind was not a sought-after goal of meditation and it was instead it was a prevalent misinterpretation of Buddhist goals which arose from a HERESY in the 1200s or 1300s.
Heresy…
I think that there can be no heresy without an overbearing, dogmatic, institutionalized ideology; the one presupposes the other.  Its the universe’s way of keeping balance.  Maybe I am learning something from Buddhism after all.

**There is a certain amount of violence which we all must inflict to survive in this world.  It is often abstracted through monetary exchange and the victims of your violence are often so removed from you that you are unaware you are hurting them.  Furthermore, it is not one person’s vilence which hurts others or you but an accumulation of the others’ violence which hurts everyone else, so in a very real way everyone’s culpability is diffused among everyone else.  “Don’t hate the player, hate the game” is a common defence for such violence and if you think about this defence it implicitly states that we are all chipping off each other in some way.  I acknowledge that I am complicit in structural violence and that can not be helped completely because I also must survive, but to whatever extent possible I would like to reduce my participation in explicit physical and verbal violence.
Seriously though, heresy is a problematic word and I am wary of any group who uses it to ostracize others.

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Six-Week "Adventure" Recap: Part 1

My Friends,
   It’s been a long time and no writing.  Well, at least no writing which I have shared with the world.  Lots been going on so I’l give you some broad-strokes.

“A Man is Rich in Proportion to the Number of Things he Can Afford to Let Alone”  – HDT
 
   I have managed to consolidate all of my worldly possessions into my apartment over the last month; no more shit in my Dad’s basement and no more shit in my grandparent’s shed.  Everything I own is either in my apartment or in my assigned storage unit in my building.  Better yet, this mass of shit keeps decreasing by the week.  See it always bothered me that I had so much stuff scattered about.  Certainly I don’t use most of it, but more than that it is burdensome to carry baggage about and it is a burden which I do not like to put on others.

A George Carlin video clip seems almost obligatory in each post now so might as well get it over with right up front.

Well, in the past month I have gotten rid of the metric shitload of clothing and accessories which constituted my army gear (oh yeah, I am getting out of the army – More on that at a later date).  On top of that I keep on doing the Kijiji thing and I slowly get rid of stuff that way too.  Other than that, anything I can afford to part with for free (books, clothes, etc) leaves my possession at a rate of about a box per week.  I can’t wait til the day when my modest amount of possessions are simply the things I use on a regular basis with nothing held in reserve so to speak.

Flexing My A-Bone

   I started taking improv classes about a month back and frankly I’m not sure why I didn’t start sooner.  I always loved being in plays in elementary school and I took drama throughout high school.  Then after high school I really didn’t do anything in that regard, but I always had this idea in my head that I would act again.  Alas, it was just a general idea so I never approached it in earnest.
   But over the years I have met a few actors and I have always admired their drive to pursue a passion. A little closer to home, my sister, a ham like me, has been taking improv and is starting a Second City course which totally convinced me that I should get my shit together and go do what I feel.  I looked for improv classes in Hamilton and found The Staircase.  I was amused to realize that it was a building which I had driven by a few years ago and which had piqued my curiosity.  I had always meant to inquire as to what went on in there and it is only years later that I serendipitously followed up on that past inclination.  A strong argument for intuition indeed.
   It has been going well thus far;

Top … Gun … Actor!

I go two nights a week and I’ve met some cool peeps.  I even attended the recent Halloween party where there were some seriously wacky costumes.  Among the wackiest was my very own…

BANE

   I’m not sure at what point it occurred to me that I wanted to be Bane for Halloween but it must have been sometime in the summer because I knew I would have to spend September and October bulking up my upper body to be even reminiscent of the top-heavy brawler.  While I certainly didn’t expect to get Tom Hardy big,

 I had no intention of going looking like…

So I started a regimen of push-ups to supplement my as-of-late chin-up-only routine, and I also activated the Goodlife membership my sister got me for my birthday which helped too.  All the while I started putting together the costume.  Working in a gas appliance warehouse was very helpful because the gas fittings and thermocouples on-site allowed me to craft a pretty cool mask using a paintball mask as the foundation.  That coupled with some gear I picked up from my friends at Hamilton Tactical (Shameless Plug) made for a pretty legit getup:

Given the amount of work I put into the costume and the overall menacing look of it, don’t be surprised if I rock it next Halloween.  At the very least I’l have to attend FanExpo this summer to floss it.

Squabbles

   I got into some altercations last week.  Two in two days actually.  The first was when a bus driver, who felt that I had recklessly jumped in front of his stopped bus to put my bike on the front rack, tried to lecture me in a condescending way about jumping in front of vehicles.  I reacted in a counter-productive way and gave him shit back.  Realizing perhaps that he had come at me the wrong way he tried to show me, without lowering his voice, how his condescension had come from a place of concern.  It was enough to defuse me.  I listened to what he had to say and we actually got to talking about mountain-biking, the army (he was a vet) and the sad state of the world.  Given the shitty start of our relationship it actually ended pretty well.  I should fight more bus drivers I suppose.
   The next day I took off work to get my costume ready for the upcoming Halloween parties that weekend.  Going into Toys R’ Us, one of the managers jumped on me right away asking me…telling me to take my backpack off.  I complied grudgingly and went to the bathroom.  On the way I noticed many women with purses and it occurred to me that on top of not liking being told what to do nor being presumed a criminal, I also don’t like being profiled.  I went back to the counter and explained that I was taking my bag and getting what I needed and that he could assign someone to escort me if he wished.  He said I would have to wait a few minutes because he was busy.  I said I wouldn’t wait and when I proceeded into the store (to purchase a Batman mask btw as an accessory for my costume).  He followed and we got into a spat which became, among other things, a discourse about the legitimacy of rules in general, with me quoting Henry David Thoreau much to this manager’s lack of interest:

“Any fool can make a rule and any fool will mind it.”

I told him that he might as well call the cops and when he left I bought my mask and as I was walking out I saw him on the phone.  I asked him if he wanted me to stick around for John Q. Law to show up and he said he just wanted me to leave.  
I peaced out, glad I had stood my ground and feeling justified for my disobedience, but still not altogether happy.  Somehow I felt I had to rectify the situation and I later did.  But alas, I must go to bed now so I will finish up this recap tomorry.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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