on writing

I try to post here more often, but I feel that I don't have much to say. I have ideas, I have opinions, but when I start to write them down here, I second-guess myself. Do I actually know what I'm talking about?

At the same time, I'm astounded as to how often I read the opinions and thoughts of pundits that are worthless. They know very little, they fail to fact-check, and they are so damn sure they are right. How can they be so confident despite being wrong so often? And they get paid for it? It's mind-blowing.

You can chalk this up to the Dunning-Kruger effect, but I feel that what makes people so enamored to the writings of know-nothing pundits is that these pundits are so confident. The whole industry of political blogging feels like some large echo chamber, where people reinforce their beliefs day in and day out.

"Damn learning! I want to read more on how I'm already correct, and how they are wrong!"

Maybe this is why, despite my liberal proclivities, I am turned off by the liberal blogosphere. I am more fascinated with the ideas of anarchists, communists, and the marginalized left than I am with those loyal stewards of the Democratic party.

Another problem I find in updating this blog is that I have a hard time maintaining my focus on my writing. I may have an idea in mind, but I then go about making outlines to organize my ideas around. It seems I need to forgo that entirely and just write from the top of my mind. Edits can come later.

So I'll try to update this more often. But who knows.

impact of the austin terrorist attack

It's not news to anyone about what happened in Austin this past Thursday. The crashing a personal airplane to an office building housing an IRS bureau was a blatant act of terrorism. This is an act of violence by a man disgruntled with the government. In the aftermath of this terrorist attack, a manifesto of Joe Stack emerged on his personal website. Suicide notes are not unusual to find, especially ones after a terrorist attacks; one only has to see the videos of "martyrs" from Palestine and Iraq to know this. Political manifestos are not unusual to find after terrorist attacks. The manifesto of McVeigh after the Oklahoma City bombings and the manifestos of Ted Kaczynski come to mind.

In the case for McVeigh and Kaczynski, their "manifestos" tended to be incoherent screeds in protests of society and their hope their attacks would precipitate a societal change. Kaczynski railed against the industrialization of civilization, while McVeigh hoped to avenged the siege of the Branch Davidians at Waco and to start a race war, a la the "Turner Diaries". In both cases, the general public (at least those who bothered to read the manifestos) were at best perplexed and bemused by the thought process that went into writing incoherent, self-righteous nonsense.

When Joe Stack's suicide note/manifesto came to light, I, the masochist that I am, decided to read a cached copy of his website. I was fulling expecting yet another illogical and nonsensical rant. The logical conclusions that Stack makes, namely that violence is the only way to enact change, is absurd. However, the gist of his argument is so emotional and filled with passion that I think will lead people to sympathize with his situation, even his actions against the federal government.

The words Joe Stack writes do not seem illogical. I don't mean that I agree with him; my own interactions with the IRS have been painless and easy to deal with thus far. But I know full well that his words have struck a cord with many disgruntled Americans. The anger against this government, especially during this economic recession, will lead to copycat acts inspired by Stacks' actions.

In surfing Twitter, I see many people posting this excerpt from Stacks' suicide note:

*The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.*

*The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.*

In reading many more comments online, many people are essentially saying "I don't agree with Stack's actions, but he has a point". How many of these people are thinking along Stack's reason? Of the hundreds of people joining Facebook groups in memory of this terrorist, how many will be inspired and follow in Stacks' footsteps? These same people are calling Stacks a patriot and a hero!  If they admire this man so much, then one would fathom to think that people will emulate him.

Many right-wing pundits are now backtracking from their calls of "revolution" against the "tyrannical" and "communist" policies of the Obama administration.  Even though Stack shows no sign to being a part of the Tea Party movement (he showed disdain for Republicans in his message), the mere fact he attacked the IRS for "robbing" him will resonate to many of the "Taxed Enough Already" movement.

I think Stacks is just the first of many more to come.

It's certainly a rough time for our Republic.

"lost to the west" lecture series

One of the first podcast I ever listened to was "12 Byzantine Emperors" by Lars Brownsworth.  The podcast tells the history of the reign of 12 different emperors (and empress) of the Eastern Roman empire, starting with Diocletian and ending with Constantine XVI.  This podcast series is, without a doubt, one of the best history series out there today. Fortuitously, I stumbled upon this lecture series by Brownsworth himself on Youtube.  Very interesting.

Lecture playlist at Youtube