What the heck happened this year?

2013 is pretty much over.  Just a couple hours to go.  I keep saying I hope every year is better than the last, and I keep getting disappointed, so this year I kinda said screw that I'm just hoping to keep my head down and keep things going.  Turns out a lot happened this year.

Got in a car accident, but no one got hurt.  Almost got into a second one when a car lost control and nearly hit mine.  Been a crappy year for commuting but when you drive 40 miles on a light day that's bound to be the case.

Our brother-in-arms dojo Zanshinkan opened a new store front location.  Took a lot of hard work, but the place really looks great and its always a pleasure to work out there.

Speaking of Dojo type things, our classes at Seireikan grew a bit, and we're hoping to keep things going.  Many of our students have done well in tournaments and we had a lot of fun at our beach workout and annual demo.  I did very well at the Petersburg Karate Open, and actually won the Grand Championship in forms at the Old School Fall Classic.  That's the first time I've ever pulled that off in open competition.  It was also the first time my mother had ever seen me compete.

 Work kept on going.  I managed to not get fired once again.  Yay me!

This year I once again had a song that really rocked my socks.  I even managed to get it played a couple of times on the local radio station until the upper management told the DJs to stop.

Not a huge year, but I'm still chugging on.

Price of Knowledge

I came across a quote from Richard Buckminster Fuller, and by came across I mean people put the quote as a caption which is called a "meme" by people who have no idea about memetics and put it up on their social media whatever to be shared and make them seem insightful
We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

Wow.  This is advocating flat out mooching.  Let's take his "fact" that one in ten thousand of us could make a breakthrough that could support everyone else.  Why should they?  If a system is in place that people are taken care of then what is the point to doing something or really anything?  Fuller had this notion that we'd all be better off if we were left to ponder things without all the hassle of actually having to do things.  Of course he was a philosopher of sorts so his idea of a solution to the problems of the world will be what his specialty is.

What does his idea of a solution lead to?

Life doesn't work the way Fuller seems to think it does.  Necessity is the mother of invention, but desparation is the father.  You have to have drive to make things happen.  Just look at the homeless guy who when given a choice between $100 and lessons on how to write code made the smart choice.   This guy showed dedication because he knew that $100 goes fast but learning a valuable skill can keep you fed much longer.  People in general love accomplishing goals having experiences along the journeys of our lives.  Thinking is important, but we can't let it stop us from doing and living.

We do have to think, and we do need a proper education.  You have to know and understand the world around you so that you can make good decisions.  Unfortunately, we've run into a bit of a problem with our education system.  High school level and below seem to be struggling to find its feet in the best ways to educate our young people and there's a nearly fanatical push to go to college.  College isn't a bad thing but it isn't for everyone, especially at today's rates.

I like Henry Rollins, and while I don't totally agree with everything he said in this video he makes some excellent points.  First and foremost that the debt young people incur from going to college is way too high.  It is ridicuous.  Rollins goes on to say that if we want to succeed as a nation that we need to make college either free or really cheap.

Let's go with cheap, because knowledge is a valuable commodity and anything valuable has price.

Education does not just come from schools.  We can receive it from many different sources if we keep our eyes open.  College is not a must have anymore, and the myth that it is preparing to evaporate.  We've got great stuff like Mike Rowe Works which is really worth everyone's time to go in and check out.

We need a balance between Rollins and Rowe, and if we get that, look out world.  Affordable college and plenty of alternatives to close the skills gap?  That's a hell of a combo.

But then some people may ask, "Why no just make these things free?"

I teach Karate.  I don't make a lot of money at it.  In fact, most of the time I'm probably doing it a financial loss.  I still charge my students a nominal fee.  My time and the knowledge I'm imparting are worth something.  I worked hard to gain the knowledge and experience that I'm passing on.  Just like any teacher in any school.  I'd love to have more students, and I was once asked "why don't you just make the lessons free?" since I really am in it for the love of the art and if it was free there's a notion I'd probably get more students.

The reality is I'd likely get less students and the one's I have may not be that great.  Same with college.  If we made college free, sure there would be young people who really benefited, but there'd also be young people when faced with the choice getting a job and goofing off in a classroom for free will take the latter.  Those kids in those college classes work hard.  Why?  Because that class cost a whole lot of money so they better get something out of it.  Charging puts that blockade up that weeds out slackers and admits serious students.

There's also the sweat and pain that comes into a Karate class in which students must learn a technique, put the work in to do it well, so they can learn the next technique.  Same with any type of learning.  You learn your basics.  Put in that work.  Do your homework.  Then move on to learn more.  You put in that sweat equity.  I spent a couple of weeks limping just from one workout in which I learned a very good and very brutal technique.  People asked what happened.

"Its the price of knowledge."

You don't start off knowing everything.  You don't even know everything after going to school.  That's one of the reasons I get irked by fast food workers demanding $15 an hour.  That's a starter job.  That's where you learn how to run a register, and make sure your drawer comes out right.  That's where you learn how to make quick things on demand.  You get a big order from a hungry family and you have to quickly assemble what they want.  That's a skill.  That's a useful skill that you are being paid to develope.  Not mention the customer service skills you gain.

You can take those skills and work you way up the fast food chain to manager and eventually franchise owner, or you can take those skills, put them on your resumé and hunt for another job that pays better.

And people complain that its not a living wage.  Its not supposed to be.  They are entry level.  That's where you start.  Once you start you're supposed to go somewhere.

Hopefully we'll get Governemnt out of throwing money around and suckering kids into debt and hopefully our society will wake up and realize that there's more to learning then just sitting in a classroom.  Thinking is important.  Learning is important.  But without working and doing you're going nowhere.

White Knights

There was stupidity afoot involving my circles on Google Plus this week featuring a woman who I know to be bi-sexual and last I checked is in a relationship with another woman being labelled and harassed as a homophobe.  How can this be, you may ask?  Well, its the internet and stupid things happen.  There's no IQ check to ride this ride.  This lead to someone I've known online for years coming into the thread of the accused out of seemingly nowhere, caps lock a-blazing, spamming a post with comments demanding to be blocked.  The spammer in question was someone I've chatted with online since Google Buzz, but over the years I finally got weary of their knee jerk attitude and removed them from my circles.  They weren't posting anything remotely interesting to me anyways.  I did so quietly choosing to just vanish as far as they were concerned.  However, since there seemed to be a homophobe about, they felt the need to come in and put them in their place.

Doesn't matter that the person in question is in no way a homophobe.

The comments were deleted, which is good because they were just sad to look at and the conversation continued about people who post emotionally as opposed to logically.  I then get a massage sent to me including a screen capture of a comment I made in the thread by the person who had made a specticle of themself.

"Ah, so despite all the courtesies and allowing you to freely speak your mind over the years I'm the crazy one." 
Silly me for not realizing that they were in charge of Google and/or the internet as such I owe my posting ability to them.  It continued.

"You really shouldn't be such a hypocrite in public." 

Being a hypocrite is like real-estate.  Its all about location, location, location.  Especially when the hypocracy is imaginary.

"I posted this private to you, because previously I've tried to give you a fair shake. But if this is how it is, then don't think I won't give you the same...courtesy you've just shown me." 

That last part almost seemed like a threat, but as its just funny and pathetic its not much of a threat.  I responded by telling them to "take your victimhood issues and fuck off" and promptly blocked them.

Seems a bit like that cyber-bullying that we worry so much about, doesn't it?  That's because it is.  Fortunately there's "block" and "ignore" options available on social media sites and the internet would be a much better place if people used them more.

This brings us to the main reason for this post and the cyber-bullies behind this: White Knights.  These individuals are aptly named due to them being on a crusade to rid social media and pretty much anywhere someone can post a comment of those terrible people who dare to disagree with them.  That Resumé of Hate I posted a while back?  These are the folks that believe all of it.  Some are just outright nuts.  Some have just fallen for the logical fallacy that they, like most people, consider themselves to be a good person and if someone does not share their views and/or values they must somehow be a bad person.  This isn't anything new.

The only thing that's really changed is that now we have a global internet community to contend with.

There's plenty of the little sub-groups within the White Knights, and here's a few of them:

The Tinfoil Hat Brigade.

There's so much information easily within our grasps today and anyone can be posting.  Accuracy is not a guarantee.  As such, we get people who have taken their off kilter opinions as facts and have found something somewhere online to validate them and that's plenty for them.  I enjoy a tasty conspiracy theory as much as the next guy who loves a good story.  In fact a good friend linked a brilliant article about how much people in general really are into conspiracy theories and how much of a pain that can be.

Where we have a problem is when a person let's their favorite whacked out idea consume them to the point where they'll insert it into any online chat or comment thread that they possibly can.  This is usually complete with links to some YouTube video or some obscure "news" site that totally backs their claims.  They're out to save us all from our own ignorance, which we must obviously have since we don't buy into whatever crackpot theory they're peddling.

Oh, and don't bother trying to provide information from reliable sources to try to set them straight.  Those sources are all part of the conspiracy trying to cover up "the truth".

The Magenta Lantern Corp

Otherwise known as the Magenta Oppression Army.  I just like the other name better.  This brand of goons have real issues that they are combating.  These are things like social inequalities, racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.  Their big problem is that they are so wrapped up in battling that issue that they see it everywhere they turn.  Yes, these issues are legitimate, but they are not in every facit of our society and existence.  Major persecution complexes here.

Let's consider our little cartoon fellow here.  This came from someone posting a picture of Nicholas Cage, but the printer messed up and it came out basically a silhouette of Cage's head with only his eyes and teeth visible.  Looked freaky and in the middle of a discussion of how freaking it looked a guy came in and said that the picture was racist and we were all racist for not being horribly offended at how racist that image was.  The discussion then pivoted to amazement at how incredibly butthurt a person would have to be to go off like that.  Needing a color coding for that level of butthurt, and after much discussion and careful consideration, it was determined that it was a magenta level of butthurt.  This also seemed to fit with the Johns' Emotional Color Spectrum from the Hal Jordan and the Techni-Color Dance Party-a-Go-Go DC Comics put out a few years ago.  The picture soon followed.

There are things that people post online that are indeed offensive.  If you find that you're being offended over every little thing, then you may want to back away from the internet for a while.  Try some meditation.  The Corps are guilty of one big crime and that's putting their issues ahead of their logic.  They let their knee-jerk emotionalism guide their online activities and just make themselves look silly.  Its hard to dismiss them totally since what they're crusading against are mostly real problems.  However, its like PETA: they would win the debate with they weren't such a bunch of obnoxious douchbags about it.

The Church of Richard Dawson and the Latter Day Atheists

This shower of shmucks come out in force this time of year.  They're the first to decry relgious people as intolerant but have no tolerance whatsoever for anyone who doesn't share their viewpoint.  You see, each and every one of us is on our own spirtual and/or philosophical journey through life.  As long as what you believe, feel, or think doesn't justify you hurting others then you're probably OK.

The Latter Day Athiests don't believe that though.  They think if you're a Christian, then you're an idiot and are in the same ilk as the Westboro Baptist Church, or if you're a Muslim, then you're a Jihadist.  That picture of your Christmas tree that you posted is their call to arms for them to comment on that picture that the custom of the Christmas tree originated with a pagan custom that Christians adopted.  Although, despite being fundie athiests they'll still take part in holiday gift giving and most would still not want to work Christmas Day.

These are typically the most pompous of the White Knights as they don't fall back on knee-jerk emotionalism, but rely upon a psuedo-intellectualism and an air of superiority that lingers in forums like a stale fart.

In conclusion, the White Knights will never go away as they're pretty much part and partial to the human condition.  There's always going to be those think they are better than other people.  They'll group together and reinforce their ridiculous notions in what one would consider an echo chamber, but sound doesn't echo in a vacuum.  Fortunately, this group is most often self-defeating.  It was White Knights that wanted to shut down Chik-Fil-A and that resulted in the franchise breaking all of their sales records (although the White Knights still think they actually won that one).  It was the White Knights who were the force behind Everybody Draw Muhammad Day and in their quest to strike a blow for freedom of expression and free speech got an entire country to temporarily block social media and spawned protests against their actions.

Most importantly, even if you think you have right on your side, cyber-bullying is cyber-bullying.  And if you encounter these people, just hit that "ignore" or "block" option.  You're not going to change them.  Save yourself the headache.