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Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Great Reads

Today was mainly devoted to cruising the interwebs, reading my favorite blogs and discovering a couple of new ones. Here are today’s picks for thought provoking content and excellent writing. My regular readers, both of them, will really enjoy these articles.

First up is the latest article from Tomdispatch.com. I freely admit that I read and recommend everything that appears on that blog.

Fighting 1% Wars

Why Our Wars of Choice May Prove Fatal

By William J. Astore

America’s wars are remote.  They’re remote from us geographically, remote from us emotionally (unless you’re serving in the military or have a close relative or friend who serves), and remote from our major media outlets, which have given us no compelling narrative about them, except that they’re being fought by “America’s heroes” against foreign terrorists and evil-doers.  They’re even being fought, in significant part, by remote control — by robotic drones “piloted” by ground-based operators from a secret network of bases located hundreds, if not thousands, of miles from the danger of the battlefield.

Their remoteness, which breeds detachment if not complacency at home, is no accident.  Indeed, it’s a product of the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq were wars of choice, not wars of necessity.  It’s a product of the fact that we’ve chosen to create a “warrior” or “war fighter” caste in this country, which we send with few concerns and fewer qualms to prosecute Washington’s foreign wars of choice.

Mr Astore is right on here. One thing that he hints at towards the end of the piece, but doesn’t actually say, is that countries that establish the kind of warrior caste that he is talking about wind up being controlled by that class. The Mameluke empire in Egypt is a perfect example. First you achieve foreign power by using mercenaries. Next you use them to maintain order inside your country. Finally, the warriors wake up and realize that they are the only power in the society. As soon as they realize that, they kick your ass to the curb and become the power on the throne instead of the power behind the throne.

Next up is this post from Stonekettle Station. I had never read this blog before today and honestly can’t remember how I came across it. Oh yeah, it was mentioned on my Facebook wall. This blog is now firmly implanted in my bookmarks. The blog is written by Jim Wright. He writes very well, IMHO, likes loooong blog posts and isn’t afraid to cuss in his writing.

Uncivil Righteousness

Opines Bachmann, allowing gay people to marry somebody of the same sex would be conferring special privileges on a select group based on their (presumed) sexual practices. Because, as I’m sure you all know, gay people only want to get married to each other for the squicky gay rainbow sex and not because they actually love each other and want to commit to spending their lives together like normal people do. It’s totally true and you can look that up.

In replying to Ms. Schmidt, Bachmann gave a total of six responses – and those six paragraphs clearly demonstrate why this ridiculous goof should be kept as far from public office, any office, as is possible.  Not only should voters, allvoters especially including conservatives, soundly reject her bid for president, they shouldn’t even elect her to be the town dog catcher – let alone a United States lawmaker.

I have to say that I haven’t been following American politics at all recently. The last time I paid any attention was when Obama ran against McCain. Look how that turned out. I’ve never heard of Michelle Bachmann, but same-sex marriage interests me and this article does a masterful job of dissecting the issue and exposing the sheer silliness of its opponents.

One of the good things about being a Canadian is that we are ahead of the curve on this issue. Ever since Trudeau said that the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation, we’ve been slowly pecking away and overturning all the outmoded laws against various kinds of sexual expression. Not that we’re perfect. Right now we are wrestling with polygamy statutes, and we have tough time differentiating in the area of cultural norms, but we are on the right track. Of course, all that could change now that George W Harper has a majority in Parliament, but we can hope.

My last offering is from John Carleton’s blog, The Rant. Carleton is a copy-writer and I first got to know his stuff in the context of marketing. I really like his folksy, profane way of writing, and most of his stuff is not so much about marketing as about life.

The Lost Art Of Rumination

If you aren’t clear on WHY you want to get rich…

… then, once you get there, you’re gonna be one lost little puppy.

It’s like mobilizing your life to move somewhere you think will make you happy. You can do it, and you can wind up in a gorgeous penthouse in the best part of town… but if your next thought is “now what?”, then you may be left wondering what it all means. With no answer forthcoming.


There are tons of books and coaching programs and seminars available that claim to make planning out your life easy. They’ll help you with the “here’s what I want to do“, and “here’s how I can get that done” processes…

… but every single one I’ve seen is woefully deficient in helping you understand “WHY I want to do that in the first place.”

The “why’s” of life are mostly ignored. It’s taken for granted that big houses, fancy sports cars, better looking spouses, bigger/better/nicer/more expensive everything is of COURSE the preferred goal.

And maybe that’s true for you.

This article really rang a bell for me. I’m in the process of rebuilding my life and I’ve found exactly the situation he talks about here. There are all kinds of resources for setting goals and achieving targets and time management, but damned little about discovering where you really want to go or why you should want to go there. I really enjoyed this little nugget, too:

In my view, you don’t need money to be successful. Money just solves the problems that not having money creates… so having “enough” money, in this culture, can help you stay clear of the time-consuming bullshit of scrambling to keep a roof over your head and food in your gut.

Right on, John. Anyway, those are my top reading picks for today. Hope you enjoy them.

Category: Daily Rant
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