A new word for it

“In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was God”

Great quote for writers to remember, huh? Gives us delusions of grandeur.

But there is great power in words-even in just one work. In his book Creativity, author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about how just asking the question is incredibly useful. HitchHiker’s Guide taught us that. “Are you sure you’re asking the right question?” Finding a new way of looking at a problem can get you a lot closer to solving it.

And this morning I found a word I’d been looking for:

This is a twisted and long thread of thought. Bear with me.

Funny I didn’t think of it earlier. This is the presidential election season, after all. Kerry is busy talking about how he has a plan, and President Bush is talking about how people in the Middle East are now free and not under tyranny.

Tyranny is a nicely flexible word. It can refer to a whole country, or it can refer to just one person.

You know, my professor of classical literature told us that the original meaning for tyranny was just a King. It is a Greek word, and it was the real name for Oedipus Rex (Rex being pushed in later, because Tyrant had a bad name). I’ve written about Oedipus before, actually. This just adds to the soup of what I’ve been thinking about.

The Founding Fathers, those instigators, knew that Tyranny was a cooperative endeavor. ‘Tax our tea, will ya? I don’t THINK so…’
Over the side it goes, and those new world colonists showed they were not going to cooperate with the percieved tyranny of England’s taxes. The American Revolutionaries pulled in their powers and refused to cooperate with tyranny.

It’s kind of funny, because the things they were complaining about seem so insignificant when we take a look around at the sorts of tyranny we’ve become used to now. Too much taxes! Give me a break! How does that even get on the same page as getting stoned to death on the streets for flashing an elbow?

And yet, these things start small.

That’s the problem. They start small. Some leader, some person given the power to rule over people, makes a small move that’s not right, and people accomodate.


They go along to get along. I mean really, you can’t argue over everything. What’s a little tax? What’s a little religious zealousness? It’s for the greater good.

Until it takes over. And then you have tyranny.

The founding fathers were big readers. They were into the whole enlightenment, Thomas Paine, Plato’s Republic, humanism and all that.

They came to an understanding of how politics work. They were attuned to it, so that they weren’t letting the ol’ monarch get away with anything. Nope, not even a little tax. And they thought and conversed and read and argued and came up with a GENIUS bunch of documents that were meant to protect our freedom.

And the big basis of this protection was that the power was distributed. They wanted people to be able to hold on to their power and not be compelled to cooperate with tyranny. The message was, ‘if you fall into tyranny, it’s your own fault! The keys to your freedom are in your own hands.’

And this is so much a part of who americans are, that we don’t even think about it. We have had this policy, don’t get involved in other people’s business. Other countries can hold a revolution if they want change. We did. The keys to their freedom are in their own hands.

Sometimes we get impatient, and the CIA plays dirty. They ‘assist’ the revolutionaries of a country with overthrowing a government they don’t like. But we do believe that it’s up to the people to take the reins for their own government.

That’s why we like democratic governments. Democracy for everyone!

But not everyone comes to democracy from the same angle.

Let’s go back to a more recent revolution. The Russian one, less than one hundred years ago, had a whole different philosophy. Communism, which I’ve also written about before.

The communists, of whom the US of A became terrified , had a desire for democracy and a very strong emphasis on being ‘for the people’. But they took it another way.

There were a set of smarty-pants, well-read, rich, idealistic and politically active men who started the whole thing and foisted it upon everyone else. Just like America so far.

But they really clung to the ideology. It was all about the ideology. This particular political philosophy happened after the advent of psychology. It was kind of an organized “power of positive thinking” in some ways.

Their idea was that if they could just educate the masses in the principles of this great ideology of equality and wonderfulness.

And maybe that’s where it went wrong. It got kind of messy when people tried to guide…FORCE…other people into actions for their own good.

The 20th century was a lot about that. A lot about ideological movements. There was the Russian revolution. Early in the 20th century. That happened during world war 1, which had it’s own sets of ideological movements on all sides. I have been thinking about that one a lot, too.

Then world war 2 happened. There was the National Socialist movement…Also known as the Nazis…Boy, they were a set of idealists. Scary scary. And ever after, we use them as examples of the ultimate bad dudes. But it was ideas that gave them power. All those people in the concentration camps were there because of a large cooperation of tyranny. The force of all the collective people going along to get along, going along because of the greater good was crushing.

Did the word holocaust exists before world war two? Maybe it had a meaning like Tyrant had during Oedipus’s time. No real meaning. The Nazis filled out the word like no one else.

Alright. But the Nazis burned out, basically. After world war 2, we were left with only the communists to fear. The communists, starting their political will to power in Russia…Which oozed over into places that had not been Russia…The Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Roumania. They were not Russia, but they were assimilated into the blank sweep of map known as the USSR.

And the communists were not done. There was Eastern Europe. They began licking their lips and swallowing chunks of Europe like cake. Germany, Poland, Chekoslovakia.

It was scary scary. I could go on with all kinds of examples, but history is not my forte, and I’ll probably be inaccurate.

The thing I am remembering, thinking about now is Milan Kundera. He wrote the Unbearable Lightness of Being, which I’ve talked about before.

I just recently finished another of his books, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. This blows me up, just like the last one.

He’s talking about how his country was taken over by the Communists. He’s talkign about Czechoslovakia, and what people choose to remember. How political powers, whichever one was in power, would revise the history, erase people from photos and memories.

I remember another book that was about American revisionist history. I don’t know if anyone else would see it that way, but I did. It deals with America’s bugaboos, race, slavery and class status. And all the people in the story seem to remember things differently. The hero is left trying to sort out what ‘really’ happened.

What the heck happened? That’s the question Kundera was dealing with. What the heck happened to my beautiful ideas? what the heck happened to my beautiful country? When did this tyranny take over? How did we allow it?

And wasn’t Oedipus also thinking this? What the heck happened? How did this horror come to pass?

We never meant for this. And at last we get to the heart of this:

I also walk with my head in my hands. What the heck happened here?

I am trying to write a memoir. It is the story of how my life was when I was 18 and 19. It is a story of


Religious tyranny. It’s a story of how certain people were given power and control, and how other people cooperated. It’s a story of how I struggled to break free.

It’s also a story of how I went to Russia, landing in Yakutsk, on the same day that the Soviet Union dissolved.

So, these are two parallel stories. Me, breaking free of American religious tyranny, and Russia, breaking free of Communist Soviet tyranny.

Now that I have the word, tyranny, I feel like I can better express the story.

I understand Kundera, with his grief and his confusion, ‘What happened?’ He struggled with his country, he struggled with the fate of his country. I struggle too. I have spent my life wondering ‘What happened? How did my family, my church, come to this?’

It is not simple. It is not normal. Tyranny is not a phase of life. There were things that happened that should not have happened. And I, as a teenager, was left grasping at straws and struggling with the why.

I looked high and low for something to explain what happened. Why did my parents make the choices they did? Why did the pastor do the things he did?

How did my brother come to the conclusion that he was could no longer make his own decisions, but always had to go to the pastor for direction in everything?

What was that about?

My first word for it was “spiritual abuse” This made sense.

But it was bigger than that. I kept looking. After time I found another word:
Mind Control

More and more, the behaviors I had seen were coming into focus. And researching mind control led directly into a new field:

And that word, cult, has satisfied me for a very long time. As I thought about it, sifting through my experiences and memories, it fits.

And as I gained courage to talk more about it with others, I began to see that these methods, these patterns, were far more universal than I thought.

And eventually, I looked over to my right and saw some nasty methods and patterns coming from the man I was married to.

It’s not that uncommon, I guess. I hate to think of myself as a victim demographic, but it’s common for abuse to go on and not be identified by the person recieving it.

It’s little things. ‘He couldn’t have meant to do that.’ But nothing wins an argument like slamming your opponent against the wall. And he probably felt a lot more in control, a lot smarter when he told me that I didn’t know anything.

It wasn’t until I began to understand how spiritual abuse, mind control and cults work that I could at last recognize what was happening at home, and be empowered to leave. Boy, it was not easy, let me tell you that!

But those three words didn’t cover what was happening in my home. They call it wife beating, emotional abuse. But it was so much of a piece with all the others.

And none of those words covered what was happening in Russia, under the communists. I thought of Totalitarianism. Yeah…

And then came the taliban, who chilled my bones. That’s back to spiritual abuse and totalitarianism.

Until today, when I finally found the word, the oldest word of them all.

Tyranny. That covers all the bases. It even covers things not in my listed experiences. It doesn’t take two to do this tango. There are ways that one person can be a tyrant to themself.

We already know that tyranny requires cooperation.

I do not have many answers. I’m thrilled today, just to have a question. Here’s the question:
What does it take to resist tyranny? How do we not cooperate with the forces of evil (cue George W. here) or the forces of misguided good intentions that push us into the arms of tyranny?

I don’t know exactly how. I think that having a strong sense of right and wrong, and an attitude of mercy is the only place I know to start.

Tyranny is bad anywhere you find it. It must be resisted.

And I still don’t have full answers. But I have to keep trying.

I’m so embarrased

My site’s been naked all day!
Maybe even longer. I”m not sure what the constaints on Movable Type are.

How embarrassing.

But people are still coming to see what might be there, or maybe to see what old stuff there’s been.

I appreciate your readership. I’ll try to think of something interesting and post it tonight. RIght now, I’m slipping into a coma because I’m tired.

But Why?

So, I am thinking about this attitude I am seeing among the political parties. Republicans are the traditionally conservatives. Democrats are the compassionate liberals.

So they say.

I feel compassionate. I feel liberal. But why don’t I feel very much affinity for the Democrats? I feel like I should like them more than I do.

Democrats are against war, right? So am I. But I still feel there are times when it is necessary. Those times should be determined with careful consideration. I think force is justified in certain thoughtful circumstances. Yet, I am not hearing as much thought from the anti-war protestors as I need to be intellectually satisfied.

And even more than war, which is a once in a while activity, I am concerned about people who are oppressed. People who may not have had the opportunities that everyone deserves. The litany: women, minorities, etc.

And the democrats are the ones supposedly for the underdog. The party for women, the party for the minorities, that’s what they think they are.

And yet, something about it is sounding funny to me. It’s a little too canned. Political correctness is getting stale. Affirmative action, women’s rights, all those things may or may not be sincere. The question is, are they working?

This is feeling wrong to me. Is the goal truly to have an equal playing field or not? What is the exit strategy to the war on civil rights? Is there a reason why we want to have a set of underpriviledged people to help?

Okay. It’s hard for me to understand. I just don’t get it. Where I grew up…I don’t know. Maybe everyone was underpriviledged. It just felt very equal.

So here’s the thing that gets me thinking. I look around at the neighborhoods here in Los Angeles. I started thing when I wanted to become a home owner. Which areas have good schools? Which ones will keep their value?

Chris grew up in Claremont. Claremont is one of the snootiest ordinary places I have ever seen. These people have a sense of how superior they are. I didn’t get it. They talk about the surrounding areas, Laverne and San Dimas and Upland and Rancho Cucamunga and Pomona.

The voice changes. When they talk about the different cities. But it’s not just the people from Claremont. Everyone who is from LA talks about cities with different tones of voice. And the tone of voice depends on the person talking. Baldwin Park is not a scary place to a brown person. And Long Beach and Inglewood is comfortable to an African American.

But to a jewish friend, Silver Lake can be scary, depending on where you get out of the car. But then, maybe she worries too much.

I find this confusing, and I am not really sure what to thing of these different tones of voices. What are all these people talking about? Are they just being prejudiced?

I found a website talks about it. What are we really talking about, when the tone of voice changes? Bottom line is crime.

Chris grew up in Claremont. In 2002, Claremont had no homicides. Next door, the city over, San Dimas, had 0 homicides. One city over from there, Pomona, had 18 people killed.

What the hell just happened here? Why does Pomona kill people? Why does San Dimas live peacefully and Pomona not?

Chris told me that there were a lot of Hispanic gangs in Pomona. THe houses are a lot cheaper in Pomona. Pomona had 448 incidents of robberies and 805 incidents of aggravated assaults. What is going on?

I do not think that Hispanic people are more inclined to violence and killing. I think that people do the things that make sense to them.

Somehow, San Dimas and Claremont have a society where killing people does not make sense. Why does killing people make sense to the people in Pomona?

Have the police come to expect that assault and robbery and murder happen in Pomona and not in San Dimas? What the heck are the police doing over there?

And Pomona is not the worst. Long Beach had 67 homicides, and Compton had 52. What the heck are the police doing?

Why is this an accepted thing? Why does Compton kill people? Why does Pomona kill people?

I can’t tell you. I don’t know. But I do not believe it has anything to do with a person’s ethnicity. I know it has to do with what those residents believe, the story they tell themselves about what is necessary to get through life.

And what story are the liberal types telling?
“You’re going to need help. You’re pathetic.”

I reject that condescion. I don’t believe in liberality that disempowers.

You know what I think? I think that this whole thing is a lot more about economics than almost anything else. Having money is having independence, it’s having choices.

But money comes from hard work. Protestant work ethic, “he who shall not work shall not eat.”

Handing out money for disempowered people does not empower them. Getting anything for free does not make a person better on the inside. Hard work and challenges are what make people grow, you grow to meet the challenges you face.

So, I am not impressed with the flavor of compassion I am hearing from liberals. If a helping hand is required, and I do not reject the idea of a helping hand, let’s give one that allows for decency. Let’s find ways of letting people exercise their own power, their own dignity growing.

THe problem is large, but so are most that are worth solving. I can’t help thinking, what does San Dimas know that Pomona doesn’t?

“Equal pay for equal work”

Listening to the debates tonight, I heard Kerry say, “women are earning 76 cents on the dollar compared to men.” This is shocking! I wasn’t sure it was true.

Wireless to the rescue. I looked it up. I don’t see women so much in that role. Unless the guys were making way more money than I thought, I figured it was not quite the story.

But I looked it up. It seems to have some figures behind it. Man, I was hoping that we’d gotten a little further than that.

But this story puts a little thought into the figures. According to her, when you take some important factors into consideration, the wage gap is more like 98%.

Whoo hoo! and Ms. McElroy makes some very good points. I’ve thought about this, in these terms, for quite some time. Leaving aside the prejudicial and sexism stereotypes, what is the major difference between a man and a woman? A woman is the one who bears the children. It takes nine months for gestation. And it takes some time to get over the process of shoving this little person out of your body.

After that, mothers may want to take time out of their career to spend time with the child. A choice that she can make. That is, the lucky ones who have the economic room to not work, or work less for a while. Many women make the choice to have less responsibilities in their career, so that they can be available to pay attention to their child.

This does not diminish a woman’s capacity to perform any of the duties her career may have demanded. The fact is, a choice like that, one that takes a woman out of the running, off the rat race and into the baby track, has wage consequences.

If a man took several months or years out of the prime career growth time of his life to do another project, it is fully expected that he would not be able to walk away with no ground lost. It doesn’t work like that.

And a women should not expect that she can hit pause and step right back in where she left off. That wouldn’t be fair.

If we were to embrace the capacity that women bring to the table, it would be wise to find ways to change the culture of the workplace. Why do we have to work 24-7? Geez.

It would be good to have a jobs that allow for a balance and a challenge. We need that, so that the children don’t get left behind.

But it seems like women are not being left behind so much anymore, and for that I rejoice.

BLOG stuff

I love my blog. It is so much fun. I am not as diligent as I used to be, writing practically every day. Now, I kick one or two out a week.

But people still come. People are checking it out.

Of course, in silicon valley, I was so behind the times for not having my own website earlier. When I moved to LA, everyone was like “You have your own website?”

It’s just a blog, I would answer.

“A what?”

never mind.

BUT NOW! Blogs are everywhere. And I have one. Even if it’s not particulary political. Anyway, it makes me happy to see blogs mentioned on TV, and advertised everywhere as a matter of course.
Yay blog!

The only question is, will i ever get to go pro? not anytime soon…But Lets stay hopeful

Oh, Canada! our dream come true drug supplier

Watching the vice presidential debates. I was mostly doing other things, until I heard Edwards say something like

‘This administration voted against buying drugs from Canada. The current administration sided WITH the drug companies. We will bring drugs in from Canada. We are for the american people.’

This started me yelling.


this drugs are cheaper in canada dealy drives me crazy. Are these guys so short-sighted? Let’s think about this…

Drugs in Canada are cheaper. The same exact drugs! Isnt’ that great! We can just get the same exact drugs from the same exact companies, and just FOOL them into giving them to us cheaper. Because we will get them from Canada. And the drug companies can’t do a thing about it! How great is that! We’ll save SCADS of money.

Maybe this is just an indication that politicians are not very good businessmen. But I think the drug companies of the world, who operate in a free market, would find a way to cover their costs.

Why does canada have cheaper rates? THey’ve taken pains to keep then that way. Canada has a different idea of government prerogatives in medicine.

Is America willing to put caps on the prices of drugs the way that Canada does? Is America, meaning american lawmakers and policy creators, willing to do the hard work of coming up with a workable, sustainable plan for medicine that reflects our american values?

It looks like America isn’t willing to do either. We want the wal-mart approach. Don’t ask what it took to buy sneakers for $6.86, just buy then for all your kids and congratulate yourself on a good deal.

Taking drugs from Canada has major implications. It skews up a trade balance, and puts the drug companies in a new and potentially unprofitable position. Pharmacuetical and biotech companies are some of the few sectors that are still doing okay. Do we need to F* with that, all oblivious of the consequences? aren’t we a little concerned about the health of industry and job generation in america?

Not only that, but all this great research and new treatments for all kinds of things are paid for by the red white and blue. Ask any drug salesguy. Are drugs expensive here? Sure, Some of them are. Are we living longer and being stronger than before? Yes, Decades longer. Do we want to cut off this system that has resulted in amazing advances?

Going shopping in Canada for drugs is a sorry excuse for not taking care of business at home. It’s big deal; the need for medicine is not going to go away. We need to face it and come up with a good plan.

Really, who’s the loser?

So, I’m trying to be part of a team here at work.

Actually, I’m resenting the fact that I am NOT part of a team. This should not be so hard.

Ever remember those group projects that were required in school? That’s where you had to form a group to do a project or a presentation, and it was some fat percentage of your grade.

What always happened with me is that I cared about my grade. I wanted the project done well and I wanted to get an A. SO we would all get together and talk about what needed done and who would do it.

There was the person that called the meetings. There was the person who just agreed with whatever everyone else said. There was usually one or maybe two people who didn’t do a darn thing.

Now. That hold true through life. This really had nothing to do with whatever subject we were learning. It was all about ‘Who’s the loser?’

I used to think that the people who didn’t do anything were the losers. But you know, I didn’t pay enough attention.

Who’s really the loser? The one who doesn’t have to do any work? Or the one who does all the work for other people?

What harm does a low grade do anyway?

If we are playing that game, the one where it doesn’t matter who shows up as long as the work gets done, then why must I be the one to show up?

I am the loser.

See previous post

So…I basically have to have some kind of faith that the loser is NOT the one that does the work. In a purely temporal world, how could it be otherwise?

The sucker is the one who gets stuck with the hard stuff.

Except I do not believe that this is a purely temporal world. I believe in higher things, like higher standards. Pride of accomplishment, a job well done, knowing that I did my best.

Boy, do I ever believe in knowing I did my best. I cannot sleep at night if I even think there is a chance I didn’t do my best.

That means i see beyond the moment, beyond the short term. I have a larger context within which I place the choices I make.

So. What is the context that the not-doers place their choices? Do they feel there is another consequence beyond getting out of doing stuff?

Let me tell you, there may not be. If this work environment does not dish out a consequence, then there isn’t.

So how does teamwork happen?
In my case, it doesn’t.

In my opinion, consequences are important. But not everyone sees it that way. Some people seem to want to avoid consequences and protect one another from them.

See this post.

This sort of thing rolls around in my head, and I wonder if I really am clinging to outmoded rules of the universe.

Maybe I need to have a talk with ol’ Nick.

You can’t fight the way things are. You can only work with it. Maybe you can work with it to improve it, but working with it is the only way.

From Earth to the MOon

So, I got to watch some TV this weekend. THey were showing this miniseries about how we got to the moon.

It was eerie. All these suited men with glasses going, “I don’t know if this is possible. It might not be possible…But we have to do it.”

And they proceeded to screw it up for the rest of us forever.

HOW many times have I faced that same dillemma in my IT jobs?

Management “we want this”
Me “I don’t think we can do that. I dont’ think it’s possible.”
Managment “Have it ready by next tuesday”

Impossible doesn’t mean impossible anymore. Not for americans.

Of course, we wouldn’t have all these cool toys and stuff to have the jobs we do if it weren’t for NASA. I, of course, worked at NASA for a year intership to learn to do what I do.

So I should be grateful.

But man…we just can’t give no for an answer anymore. Not since we’ve sent a person to the moon.

The Debates

There is a lot of noise around here, Hollywood and LA, about how much a lot of people hate Bush.

The whole Michael Moore thing got everyone talking. Farenheit 911, and all that.

Now, the last Presidential election captured everyone’s interest only AFTER the votes were cast. This presidential election seems to have a little more interest for the public.

Now, I may be wrong, it may be that I am only just now hanging out with people who care about politics. But I am seeing a lot of people, including myself, who are interested in the debate.

Kinda cool.

I watched it, and then I watched it again when it went on the second time.

It was very interesting to see the facial expression and the tones of voices between the two men.

My prediction still stands. I think Bush will win.

This does not mean that I will vote for him, but I have a feeling he will win by a little bit.

I will have to watch the next one. I’m glad that people are interested.