Random Reflections

2002-03-16

Here I am eating baklava, sipping Turkish coffee, listening to Bach's Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, and wondering where the last week went. I know I was tremendously busy, but after a relaxing Saturday I don't quite recall what it was that kept me so occupied. Rather than try to remember, I think I'll let my mind reflect at random....

First reflection: it's a beautiful world we live in, that it contains two foods so supremely suited for each other as baklava and Turkish coffee.

Second reflection: Bach's Cello Suites are sublime. I still possess the ambition to record them on electric bass. But first I need to buy an electric bass and apply twenty years of guitar skills back to my first instrument.

Third reflection: I don't want to be a citizen of the empire. Although I have not paid attention to the news since December or so, I am vaguely aware that the federal government of the United States of America is rattling its sabre towards certain nations. That government is threatening an "Axis of Evil" that includes so notoriously feckless a nation as North Korea. That government is intervening in the internal affairs of poor places like Colombia, simply because they produce recreational drugs that are voluntarily consumed by non-violent Americans, millions of whom are imprisoned each year for the victimless crime of possessing substances that the government dislikes. That government is in large measure intimidating and suppressing the freedoms of its own citizens. That government is, more and more, acting like an imperial (and imperious) power. I am by birth a citizen of the United States of America. I fear the day when by an unnatural evolution I find myself a citizen of the empire -- an empire that with overweening hubris seeks to project its power over the entire surface of the globe.

Fourth reflection: I am an individual. If you are a citizen of a nation other than the USA, I ask that you not associate the actions of those who hold the reins of power in the federal government of the USA with all citizens of the USA. I ask that you break free of overwhelming propaganda and common habits of thought and communication from governments and news media alike, which allege that "America attacks Afghanistan" or "Washington threatens Baghdad" (nearer the truth, but still false). The individual is primary, and there is in reality no such thing as "America" or "Iran" or any other nation -- there are only individuals. Some of those individuals happen to lead or work for the entity that possesses an effective monopoly on the use of force within certain commonly-accepted boundaries. But a government must never be equated with the thousands or millions of individuals who happen to be living inside the borders it controls. When we sloppily say that "America thinks X" or "America does Y", we really mean that "those who currently control the federal government of the USA think X or do Y", not that all individuals inside the borders of the USA agree with those thoughts and actions. I am an individual.

Fifth reflection: public-key encryption is a good thing, and I need to encrypt more of my email using my key. I already use encryption in Jabber (specifically, the Gabber client) and it would be good if my email messages were a little more secure than the electronic equivalent of a postcard. Google has the information I need to use GPG with Pine (my email client). Must follow up on that.

Sixth reflection: weblogs are fun. I don't disagree with those who say that weblogs are important -- Shane McChesney offers not one, not two, but three reasons why, yet notice that he intelligently labels these as 1 and 2 and 3 of "n", because there are a lot more reasons than three (recording your thoughts forces you to think things through, writing begets better writing, decentralized blogging undermines the authority of the major media, etc.). But for me, one of the main values is that blogging is fun. Does one need further justification than that? Call me a hedonist if you like, but I've long thought that there is a lot to be said for an enlightened hedonism of the kind espoused by Epicurus.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal