Category Archives: Srs bsns

These are serious posts with little or no pictures for people who like to read and aren’t intimidated by a wall of words.

On Boxes and Divorce

Existentialist, atheist, anarchist, socialist, feminist, mystic, libertarian, “Ron Paul republican”, anarchocapitalist, Christian, Bitcoiner, non-feminist, activist, wife, misanthrope…these are all labels I’ve embraced or were adopted into over the years in about that order. They are also boxes I want no part of.

The first label began quite literally as ink on my hand—I took a Sharpie and wrote the word “existentialist” on my left hand after learning of the term in the book Black Boy in my freshman English class. I did it to be weird and agitate the conservative majority in my high school. Since then, I’ve bounced around labels a lot but always had the same internal moral compass.

So we’re tribal and regardless of your like or dislike of that it is factual. I’ve always been a bit of a “floater”—hanging on the periphery of many tribes and occasionally diving in only to dive back out after some consideration. My philosophy borrows from many sources and in any given week you may see me critique ideological opposites; hence the title of this blog “Extremely in Between”. This contrarianism has always been present internally as far back as I can remember. I’m bad at tribalism while simultaneously feeling drawn to it because don’t we all want to belong?

timgivesnoshitsI love exploring nuance and am disheartened that I get lumped in with others I also disagree with because of binary thinking. This theme has been constant in any group I’ve attempted to join whether socialist or capitalist or libertarian. Not even the brightest are immune from black and white thinking and that’s a shame. A longer post may be forthcoming.

So there’s that little dissatisfaction but oh well—it’s to be expected when writing for strangers on the internet. And now onto the second part of the title; I am going through a divorce. I’ve kept my personal life out of this blog out of respect for the privacy of my husband. We were together for nearly nine years and spent almost every day together. He was and still is my best friend. It’s too painful to recount the details and they are many but I also want to respect his privacy in our separation. If posting has seemed irregular or random, this is why. My brain hasn’t been functioning at optimal efficiency due to very deep depression that has been present for years but in the last year has intensified and has been even more exacerbated by the divorce. I forget important things, can’t think as well strategically, and find myself feeling pulled between being emotional at the smallest triggers while alternately feeling nothing at all. It’s most disturbing to not be able to feel love.

I highly recommend avoiding a divorce if you can. It really sucks. Nothing has made me feel like as much of a failure in my life. Sometimes you dedicate so much of your passion to something that is doomed. I’ve done that a lot but thought that my relationship would be different. It wasn’t because you can’t love someone enough to make them love themselves.

So, what is this post all about? I am redefining who I am and where I want to go. A lot of my identity has been wrapped up in another person’s and the various boxes I’ve associated with. I need to start over in many ways. I need to develop the inner voice that has been a whisper for so long. A lot of what’s been written here was a manifestation of that voice but I found myself ignoring it while sometimes striving towards the irrational and destructive. I am not a part of any movement but share similar goals with some activists. Ultimately, I am an individual that can’t be claimed by ideology, other individuals, or a relationship. My attempts at personal freedom will continue but I don’t want any part of shitty narratives—even ones I mostly agree with.

Maybe some bad poetry will be posted up here, who knows. I want to take this space in a different direction while retaining a humorous tone or a more serious one depending on what is called for. I also admit I’m bad at delineating the two. I have always dealt with trauma through humor and don’t really know any other tactics.

So, there’s my rambling. There was much more I wanted to write but keeping it brief is best. I’ll elaborate more in future posts if I feel it necessary.

TL;DR: I resent being boxed in and am also going through a divorce that is making my feels hurt really bad.

Also, if you are feeling depressed, please please please talk to someone about it. I am very thankful to the kind people who have lent me their ears during this whole mess. You’re not alone and people really do care more than you may think.

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Anarchism without Hyphens by Karl Hess (narrated by M.K. Lords)

Karl Hess explains the nature of anarchism without hyphens. I’ve been a panarchist for years now and Hess’ text is one of my favorite reads. I’ll be making more recordings of essays and posting them here and on my Youtube channel. Images used were ones I found browsing and some were borrowed from Bitcoin Not Bombs comrade Davi Barker. I’ve been all over the anarchy spectrum but find Hess’ analysis closest to my position now. Enjoy the recording.

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When Do You Break People Out of Prison?

There are few methods at our disposal to right the wrong of false imprisonment. But as many believers note, our legal system was premised on the notion that it is better for ten guilty men to go free than one innocent man be imprisoned. I have no such faith that the current system comes even close to such a principle and don’t believe it really ever has been held to such standards.

From the very beginning of the republic, we’ve seen examples of excessive federal overreach. Regarding the recent release of the CIA’s sanitized torture report, I was recently asked when I thought the US lost its moral authority and I answered “around the time of the Whiskey Rebellion”. (Of course, the country lost it way before that when our predecessors engaged in biological and other types of warfare on the indigenous people living here before the land mass was “discovered” by Europeans.)

Public school history tells us that the Revolutionary War was fought against taxes and yet as soon as our ancestors elected a king—ahem—president, he put down a rebellion caused by his administration’s tax on poor whiskey manufacturers. The originator of “shock and awe” was George Washington, who ordered excessive force to be used to put down the rebellion specifically in order to prevent future insurrections. This mindset foreshadowed the prohibition we saw not only of alcohol but of other equally or less harmful substances today and also flavored the public opinion against any form of resistance no matter how appropriate.

Since the Whiskey Rebellion, we have seen all manner of people arrested for the pettiest of crimes and now live in a time where anywhere between half to three quarters of the country’s federal prison population is comprised of nonviolent drug offenders. The US also has the largest amount of prison inmates per capita than the rest of the world. On top of that, citizens tacitly consent to torture at black sites and Guantanamo Bay that result in several innocent people undergoing some of the most horrific torture on record. There are even political prisoners sentenced in kangaroo courts from the 1960’s who aren’t allowed to pursue justice in a world with forty years of social and cultural change. Then you have modern day political prisoners like Chelsea Manning and Barrett Brown.

The options for fighting torture abroad are extremely limited and even the best intentioned tactics we have locally are not particularly effective if we measure effectiveness in terms of innocent people freed. We can make petitions demanding the release of nonviolent prisoners, we can educate jurors about jury nullification, we can stage protests, we can write our congressmen and president…but curiously absent from these methods is anything outside the socially approved way of dealing with the broken system. That’s not meant to insult the great people striving towards this measure as much as it is a reflection of my own impatience, after all I believe in a diversity of tactics.

However, I don’t expect that such an broken system can be repaired with the tools the system has encouraged us to use. Much like voting, many of these methods beg for radical change within safe parameters. Former political prisoner Assata Shakur has said,

“No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes, if they know that that knowledge will help set you free.”

As far as imprisoning innocent people goes, we can look to history and Assata’s case in particular for how to set people free. She was accused of killing a police officer and underwent an extremely biased trial resulting in her imprisonment. As a response, The Black Liberation Army broke her out and assisted in her escape to Cuba, where she still resides and still faces a two million dollar bounty for her capture and return to the US. She is also still on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list. But most importantly, she remains a free woman.

Timothy Leary, another radical, was also imprisoned and later broken out by the Weather Underground. The Weather Underground accepted around $25,000 from The Brotherhood of Eternal Love for this break and assisted Leary in his escape to Algeria. Before this arrest, Leary faced 30 years in prison during another trial for marijuana possession. He was able to appeal the sentence and the law he was sentenced under was found unconstitutional. Offenders of lesser prominence aren’t as fortunate.

Leary was repeatedly targeted by the Feds for fear he would spread unconventional views, and you still see the pattern of oppression with outspoken activists. Calls for lynching Edward Snowden came without second thought when he exposed the NSA’s extensive spying and it is assured that if he were to return to the US he would face an unfair trial and lengthy prison sentence with probably a little bit of torture thrown in for shits and giggles. Manning was brutally tortured but that’s supposed to be okay because she was a traitor.

Even if you didn’t reveal government secrets there’s no question that prison conditions are inhumane and reduce human beings to their basest survival mode. Why nonviolent drug offenders are placed with rapists and murderers has never been adequately explained and yet people tolerate it even when it happens to them or someone close. And even if you fully realize the atrocity of prison the alternatives leave victims and their supporters feeling powerless. PTSD from experiencing prison conditions is real and threatens the bond the convicted can have with others once released.

The moral question of direct action based prison liberation is an easy one for anarchists—of course it makes sense to violate a sentence if unjust. If we have a moral duty to disobey unjust laws, do we not also have the moral authority to free prisoners bonded by those same laws?

But with an increase in prisoners also came an increase in security measures along with diminishing direct action following the infiltration and disruption of effective, active groups in the 1960’s and 70’s. These measures are not so secure that no one escapes, though. The question becomes how can prison breaks be accomplished tactically? I’m a writer, not a jail breaker, so I mostly work in theory but perhaps there is a tactical case to be made alongside the philosophical one.

What we are seeing is the emergence of technology that is opening up markets of all possibilities. With the bolstering of the deep web by easy to send and acquire cryptocurrencies, financing prison breaks has become easier. Crowdsourcing prison breaks is becoming an option now whereas in earlier years you needed a wealthy financier. With the accumulation of cryptocurrencies in the hands of younger generations who tend to be more impatient and radical along with technologically savvy, the potential of financing prison breaks is real.

With specialization comes ease of carrying out projects, so if the financial side can be met from there it’s a matter of finding people with the skills to carry out the task. I don’t know of anyone personally with those skills, but the machinery of the prison system breaks the ones tasked with guarding inmates too. If there is growing unrest among prison guards or even former guards there is potential of cooperation. And of course black markets attract individuals with variety of skill sets unacceptable to the rest of society. If much maligned assassination markets could come to fruition (that’s not to condone them) then I don’t see why deep web crowdsourced prison breaks couldn’t either.

Is crowdsourced justice perfect? Of course not, but I’ll take my chances on an experiment rather than a system that measures its failures in human lives and shattered psyches. It’s not an issue of local jail breaks, either. The torture report revealed what really goes on in black site prisons around the world and it’s even more egregious what happens to innocent people who have been declared “terrorists”. If the ideal of a justice system is ten guilty men free instead of one innocent imprisoned then I’ll go even further and say I’d rather see ten more 9/11s than one case of rectal rehydration.

Direct action has gotten the goods many times before when it comes to liberation of political prisoners and if we can agree that political prisoners and nonviolent offenders are undeserving of the utter hell of prison then it follows that they should not be left to perish for the crime of nonconformity. As technology provides us tools for liberation, it becomes less of a question of why or how these breaks will happen and more of a question of when and who.

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Updated Thoughts of Ross Ulbricht, the accused Dread Pirate Roberts

Last year, I wrote some uncomfortable thoughts about Ross Ulbricht, the man accused of being Dread Pirate Roberts. Since I have been MIA on my own blog for several months, I wanted first to clarify that I no longer hold the same beliefs as then and haven’t for a very long time. My apologies for the delay in updating. I was wrong and am happy to admit I was wrong. I still believe using violence against others is the very last resort and usually uncalled for, but I have great difficulty believing the fantastical claims about Ross. I had the opportunity to meet his mother Lyn Ulbricht and be on a bitcoin panel with her. She is lovely and awesome and I really believe this trial is an awful way to make an example out of someone. My thoughts are with him and his family in this difficult time and you can donate to his defense fund here.

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Bitcoin is Post-Privilege and Pro-Human Rights

*This article originally appeared on the Bitcoin Not Bombs website.*

With the media frenzy in full tilt after the closing of MtGox, there have been quite a few articles coming out declaring the death of bitcoin and an equal number reassuring us that it will be just fine. I won’t link to the former ones because they’re so painfully uninformed and rely on tired scare tactics. I have come across one article of a different vein, though, and it seeks to bring in the toxic philosophy of privilege checking as a critique against the Bitcoin community. I could wax philosophic about the specific problems with the academia class developing a divisive practice based on classist, racist, and sexist premises, but I specifically want to address the claims of the author of this piece.

There’s no shortage of commenters decrying the inequality of the Bitcoin community from their ivory towers, but to say Bitcoin is “by the privileged, for the privileged” is a new low. The author, Annie Rose-Strasser, claims that Bitcoin is a boy’s club and cites statistics that show men dominate the sphere, but this is neither new nor compelling news. The tech field is dominated by men because more men prefer tech work than women for several reasons, similar to how more women dominate other fields such as nursing and teaching. I’ve argued before that these preferences are not a bad thing and believe they represent a natural division of labor that arises when you have a relatively free economy in which people are not forced into specific fields of work.

Even though men make up the majority of Bitcoiners they do not work to exclude women, people of color, or those in poverty; in fact, the fastest growing sector of the Bitcoin economy is charities—each of which equally feature women in prominent roles and some of which feature no men on their teams. I am in the unique position of being in one of these myself (Bitcoin Not Bombs) and working closely with the other ones—mainly Sean’s Outpost Homeless Outreach, Fr33 Aid, and Antiwar.com. BitGive, Shire Sharing, Bitcoin100, and Good-Bits are other charities/nonprofits that also use bitcoin to help others. Bitcoin100 actually lists dozens more charities that accept bitcoin on their site, and to date the charities I have mentioned have helped thousands of people locally and globally suffering from poverty whether due to homelessness or natural disasters like the typhoon in the Philippines.

It is no longer a hypothetical theory that bitcoin can be used to help the downtrodden; it is a reality that takes place every day. Sean’s Outpost Homeless Outreach has served over 50,000 meals to homeless residents in Pensacola alone and has bought a nine acre property that will be used as a safe camping space for the homeless, Bitcoin Not Bombs clothed and fed hundreds in their Hoodie the Homeless project, Fr33 Aid sent medical supplies and aid to hundreds afflicted by the typhoon in the Philippines, and Shire Sharing fed over 1,000 people Thanksgiving dinner in New Hampshire. The ability of bitcoin to be sent internationally in a matter of seconds directly to individuals in need for nearly free is ushering a new era of mutual aid and global cooperation. Strasser supplied zero evidence that bitcoin harms the poor, and it is abundantly clear that bitcoin is being used for the very things she claims it isn’t used for.

Strasser makes the extremely ignorant assumption that due to this male dominance, Bitcoin users are hostile to the unbanked and other oppressed groups. You would have to be living under a rock feasting solely on anti-Bitcoin propaganda to think that Bitcoin is only about making money and oppressing the lesser privileged. In fact, Bitcoin can help the unbanked more than government agencies. You do not need a driver’s license, bank, or even a place of residence to start using bitcoin. There are homeless people in Pensacola, FL who have literally used bitcoin to pull themselves out of poverty—good thing they have their home now so they can check their privilege.

After speaking with Jesse, one of the men featured in the Wired story, their biggest hurdle to getting into a home was going through the costly regulations imposed by the state. When you speak with other homeless people in Pensacola, you learn that coding regulations prevent them from living in abandoned buildings and anti-homeless camping bans prevent them from camping on secluded public property.

The state is standing in the way of one of the largest unbanked groups gaining financial and physical independence. The anti-homeless camping bans are not unique to Pensacola, and there’s even an actual state representative that physically destroys the property of homeless people in Hawaii. The homeless population is being physically oppressed by the very state Strasser argues is necessary for women of color to rise out of their situations.

Now to possibly the most offensive part of the article, Strasser actually argues that women of color in particular are dependent on the current welfare state and desperately need government programs to help them. If that isn’t laying the paternalism on pretty thickly, I don’t know what is. I mean, really, does the author expect women to buy this garbage? “I’m so sorry the institutional racism perpetuated by the state is causing you to suffer. Here have some more state because you are woefully unprepared to help yourself.”

Strasser claims that women comprise the majority of the unbanked and that unregulated financial institutions oppress them. I’m thinking she forgot about how the government she loves so much forced banks to give loans to low income individuals who could not pay them back before the housing crisis. Or, how those predatory banks that stole the income and homes of those same disadvantaged people were then bailed out by the government. But remember that time HSBC executives got jailed for financing Mexican drug cartels who killed about 19,000 people, many of which were women? Oh wait, no, they totally got away with murder.

Government in its current form isn’t so much an arm of justice as it is a way to keep those with wealth in power and immune from the laws everyone else is forced to abide by. None of the regulations on the books or proposed are going to stop powerful banking interests from committing crimes on a massive scale because of the licentious relationship between banks, corporations, and government.

And how about that drug war that disproportionately jails black men for having the wrong plant? I can’t imagine why there are so many struggling, single mothers who are forced to get assistance just to survive. Good thing state sponsored thugs are there to jail their partners, brothers, fathers, and children. I fail to see how Bitcoin is more threatening than the ineffective, unjust drug war and also how Strasser fails to mention this as an influencing factor in the poverty among women of color.

Strasser asks, “Why isn’t the crypto-currency of the future taking hold among communities other than the elite?” Excellent question–bitcoin is. One of the most oppressed groups in this country are Native Americans. The Ogala Lakota Nation, a sovereign Native American tribe, announced interest in Bitcoin specifically because they think it can lift them out of poverty. t’s not really surprising since the government has historically persecuted the Lakotas and other tribes. The Lakotas launched the BTC Oyate Initiative Project to raise awareness about Bitcoin and even designed their own cryptocurrency called Mazacoin that is now their official currency.

If we really want perspective on privilege, the global implications of an easy to use payment system must be taken into account for its efficiency in providing aid directly to people all over the world—especially disadvantaged women, many of which must raise families on low resources while their partner finds work in more economically healthy areas.

The ability for affordable and quick remittances is one of the most promising aspects of Bitcoin. There’s no comparison with Bitcoin and Western Union when it comes to being a cheap, effective money transmitting system. You can’t beat 1% or less transaction fees versus the 12% it takes to send money via Western Union to the poorest parts of Africa. Bitcoin Not Bombs is currently printing Bitcoin quick start guides in Spanish so that people here and across the border can use it to send money to their families back home and avoid high fees. These fees eat up a good portion of what they are able to send to their families back home (and depending on the service, the transaction can be denied), and Bitcoin eliminates these problems.

In many cases, being unbanked is a choice made by people who have been historically disenfranchised by banks, and I think it is important not to discount the distrust many still correctly have of banking institutions. Let’s not forget the failure of the Freedman’s Savings Bank, which was set up under Abraham Lincoln. After its failure, depositors–the majority of whom were freed slaves– did not get properly compensated for their losses. I would even say it’s arguable whether the FDIC has the funds to replenish bank deposits in the instance of a modern bank run, but if you trust corrupt banks with your money I guess that’s a risk people are willing to take. Bitcoin doesn’t rely on trusting a third party with your money; its structure forces the individual to be their own bank. While some debate whether that is a flaw or feature, for the unbanked already used to controlling their own money independent of banks it is familiar and easy to transition into.

Those “privileged” Bitcoiners are enthusiastic about helping the unbanked get set up with Bitcoin and many spend hours assisting those curious about the protocol and currency. Knowing about the drive, mission, and concern of the individuals in the larger community specifically for the unbanked and less privileged is crucial before you can outright dismiss all Bitcoiners as selfish libertarians twirling their Monopoly man mustaches.

The fastest way to get someone started with bitcoin is to help them open a wallet and give them a small amount. I have done this and seen it done numerous times; the community literally gives away money to anyone willing to set up a wallet. Indeed it is how many current Bitcoiners got started. And bitcoin is affordable because you don’t have to buy a whole one at a time, you could buy fractions of a bitcoin depending on your budget. For those unbanked who rely on under the table paid work, Bitcoin is a great way to accept a variety of currencies and actively participate in a new economy–one which rewards bitcoin friendly businesses with consistent patronage.

Bitcoin as a payment system/network and as a currency (lowercase b) is also not necessarily trying to replace the current flawed system, as Strasser claims: “It wants to replace our current economic system and practices in their entirety — changing the way we buy goods and distribute money.” My sides! So, you mean to tell me exchanging a currency for goods and services just like you can with cash, credit cards, PayPal, wire transfers, and checks is replacing the current economic system entirely? Strasser doesn’t appear to have used bitcoin or she would know that it is a currency that functions just like any other method of payment, and sometimes more smoothly with less of a chance to commit fraud and steal from merchants like you can with credit cards. Right now, the Bitcoin economy functions parallel the mixed economy, but is superior in many ways.

It’s unfortunate to see such inaccurate claims about Bitcoin’s ability to rectify societal inequalities because if anything Bitcoin breaks down these barriers erected between individuals by the corrupt banking institutions and government. The entire paradigm of centralized control of finances and aid is shattered when you can send funds directly to someone in need.

Millennials are another group that Bitcoin has helped; the fact that these people regardless of race or gender have made some money out of investing early in bitcoin is great news—not something to feel shame over. It’s appalling that Strasser is saying these same people are somehow terrible because they narrowly escaped the financial destitution many in our generation face after going into massive debt for college degrees with little demand in a struggling economy.

Bitcoin should be lauded as a success story for the Millennial generation, and while I have not personally made massive gains like some, Bitcoin has helped me secure some financial independence as a female Millennial who was priced out of college and struggled in numerous dead end jobs for years. This is not an uncommon occurrence, my friend Amanda BillyRock talks about how Bitcoin helped her as an unbanked individual in this thought provoking video. Not all Bitcoiners are wealthy venture capitalists; many are graduates or students faced with crippling debt whose incomes are whittled away by government programs designed to siphon money from the poor and middle classes to older generations. The class implications alone are  worthy of considering when talking about Bitcoin’s ability to help the disadvantaged.

The Bitcoin world is not all rainbows and roses, and yes you do have to be concerned with criminal elements. The criminals active in Bitcoin are dangerous, but concern over the 0.5% of transactions associated with black market activity is laughable compared to the destruction wreaked by even just one facet of the empire—war; the swiftest way to increase poverty worldwide. For countries torn apart by war, Bitcoin is an excellent way for people outside the conflict to give direct aid and remittances for families who aren’t able to return to their countries (or conversely, escape). This function is really what makes Bitcoin disruptive–it threatens the forces that keep people enslaved by warfare.

Strasser is correct in thinking Bitcoin is dangerous; it is dangerous to war profiteers, corrupt banking institutions, unethical banking practices, usurious money transmitting services, tyrannical governments, failed foreign aid programs, and systems that keep people in poverty.

Strasser is attempting to force Bitcoin into the mold of social engineers that use buzzwords such as privilege to shame people for doing benign activities like having bitcoins. While shame no doubt has its place for dissuading harmful activities, the privilege argument against Bitcoin is incredibly weak. Privilege is simply defined as a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people. Bitcoin cannot possibly be limited to only the privileged as anyone (even people in Kenya) can gain access to it through standard cell phones, a tool which the developing world has increasing access to.

I challenge Strasser and others to go beyond the thinking that Bitcoin is bad because white dudes predominantly use it and they are “bad”; it is intellectually lazy and insulting to the thousands of non-white, non-male, non-libertarian human beings that use and benefit from the use of Bitcoin every day.

The barriers to entering the Bitcoin economy are lower than getting a bank account or drivers’ license making it an ideal system for the unbanked and impoverished. Social justice advocates would be keen to embrace Bitcoin with open arms as it—in real time not theoretically—is leveling the playing field and providing the most disenfranchised with opportunities previously unavailable.

Original content by Meghan, copyleft, tips welcome // //

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Shifting Sands of Certainty

It’s overcast. Again. In an area known for its endless sunshine, clouds have put a damper on the whole year. The unusual weather is nothing new and I shouldn’t be surprised that another summer has been robbed by rain. The ever optimistic sailboat operator that stopped by this morning was still pleasant though his business suffered immensely from the rain. The flesh eating bacteria infesting the Gulf probably didn’t help, either.

The elderly couple that just left echoed the worries of everyone these days…what about the banks? What about the government? Is our money safe anywhere? The aged man opened the door for his wife twice as they were coming and leaving, a relic of an older time. She allowed it; expected it—just like when she handed him the book and tin she was holding as she went to stand up from the chair as the meeting began. She expects to be cared for as he has always provided. There was a certainty to their actions though they expressed uncertainty of the future.

The future’s uncertain and the end is always beginning. Older generations seem shocked by the uncertainty; perplexed that something that was once so stable, so familiar has been uprooted and changed so quickly before their very eyes. Kids these days…

But the kids only know uncertainty. We have to be adaptive and keep up to keep afloat and if we’re constantly distracted by the things we have to pay attention to to attend to our payments of debt then we’re too easily distracted. Distraction is our survival method and it’s not a new one, but it has become necessary.

When the only thing certain in the world is uncertainty, there’s no living in the future but there’s a lot of contemplation about it. There’s barely living in the present as woes are echoed over buying and spending and healthcare and war. There are always the wars, but they get pushed to the backburner. What about this healthcare stuff?

Well, what about it? Go crunch the numbers and try to tell me it’s not about crushing the middle class already hanging by a thread. Try to tell me how much I need a service from a broken system that will be collapsed by the time I’m old enough to receive its “services.” What can I say that hasn’t already been said better? I won’t be bitter about it, but I will defy it.

As a creature whose moods are moved by the flows of the lunar cycle you could say I’m especially moody today. Some might chalk it up to Cancerian emotionalism, but I don’t believe in that brand of voodoo. I’d like a potion; however, to give me back the certainty I had when I was eighteen.  When I got that way too big third eye tattoo on my back that admonished me and whoever read it to “Be Here Now” back then and in the future. Back when socialism seemed viable and people were naturally good. Back when I knew everything and the world was my eel to be wrapped in rice and seaweed because pescatarianism was so enlightening…man. I’d go to school for cheap, get a degree, piddle around a bit, maybe go back and get a PhD. in some literary field so I could be a professor and publish some books on the side and feel so insulated and secure in academia, perhaps looking down my nose at people who dared to watch Fox News and own an appliance business or something…useful to society.

So, I’m great at tangents, but that’s no skill and maybe there’s some eloquent way of tying it all together by the end of the blog post or maybe this one is just an adventure in itself. I’m better at beginnings and endings, says all writers especially bad ones, says me. So, this whole middle part is the part that we were taught in our English 101 essay writing to pass the FCAT class was unimportant. The part people glaze over, and doggone it you put the least interesting stuff in that middle paragraph because “people forget the middle of something and only focus on the beginning and the end.” Except that that is not what real life is like. I’m nearing the middle of my life at a break neck speed and desperately seeking meaning and direction, but have been schooled that the only parts anyone wants to hear about is the beginning and the end so should I just stop? God forbid.

There I go, I just checked my notifications on Facebook because of that old distraction. I didn’t stop thinking about what to do with what I hope will be the middle part of a blog entry, but I don’t know that I added any new information to hold your attention.

Two more kids got shot at a school today.

Two kids, once nearer to the beginning of their lives than I am, but beating me to the end. And I’m still in the present trying to comprehend what makes kids kill. Trying to make sure I survive the “boring” middle part of my life while feeding my narcissism every now and then when those kids don’t even get to enjoy the joy of banality that is presence instead of (what I hope isn’t) darkness forever.

They want another gun debate. All of ‘em. They want a solution to the debt. They want a solution to healthcare. But no one wants to know why all of these problems persist. No one wants to go back to the beginning and ask what the cause is. If they did, they would be forced to take a difficult look at themselves. Not as they appear outwardly, but the inner man who knows his secret sins. The heart of man that is greedy and self-serving and knows no other way and no matter what value you attach to this trait it is what it is; it exists. A book I was reading about how to write well (I didn’t stop reading when I dropped out of college, you know—and the author of the book hates that term), and in the PC environment which has thrived he warned the reader to avoid using male pronouns more often than female ones. So, maybe I should say, “The inner woman who knows her secret sins.” But…isn’t that sexist? I can’t keep up now, and it all sounds a little corny.

Now, whether as some claim greed is good or greed is evil, it matters not. We’re all greedy on different levels. We all want what we can’t have and we all want to prevent others from attaining things we feel entitled to whether or not we admit it. As much as I don’t want to admit it, that curmudgeon Ayn Rand was right. And yes, a good many of us simply want to be left alone. We want to go to work, get home safely, be loved by someone or many someones, eat, shit, and get some sleep. The minor disruptions will be ignored even if they are kind of major. We’ll pay the penalty for shitty “healthcare,” we might bitch about a war, but we’ll keep trudging along until we can’t anymore because it is at our front door in a suit wearing black boots.

Life is moving so fast and sometimes all I can think about is what will happen when I can’t keep up anymore. When I can’t have 30 tabs open absorbing different nuggets of mostly useless information to store in the vast infinite amount of grey matter in my mind (or my brain? Has anyone figured out that one yet?). When my husband opens the door for me as I delicately walk into some office and ask a much younger person what they think will happen. They don’t know, either, but hopefully by then I’ll be less concerned with finding certainty. Hopefully, I’ll have kids of my own that weren’t sent to public school where they were made lambs to the slaughter before they reached the age where they got to know everything and then realized they knew nothing and yet couldn’t submit, for knowledge then would be so attainable and yet so far away.

Kind of like it is now.

If I’m to obey my mistake tattoo completely, I have to let go of this worrisome uncertainty of the future. But we were never meant to. I am different from those old folks and closer to those kids in varying degrees of certainty. How could they have possibly gained anything from being aware in the present moment when they were shot? But I was so certain when I got it hammered into my skin that the mantra couldn’t be wrong and so many people remark on how “deep” it is. It isn’t deep. It isn’t shallow. It just is, and not in the pseudo-metaphysical kind of way. I can’t ever “Be Here Now” except in the flesh, and am thankful that only the flesh can be stamped with the kind of regressive ink that is a tired saying by a dying doctor. My mind, though, is always doing somewhere else later.

I have to reconcile this anxiety with action and becoming comfortable with uncertainty is paradoxical. My mind understands the need for it, but those pesky emotions always seem to get in the way. Don’t worry, I’m working on fixing my hormones I promise, but I’m just a lady. Am I still allowed to use “lady?” I’ve always been fond of the word, but that author might disagree. Is becoming wholly comfortable with discomfort the real singularity? In our mind we can justify any belief and use mental gymnastics to prove it is true, but is action the proof that it is solid? I know many brilliant philosophical nihilists, but how often do their direct actions align with their beliefs? Same for any extreme stance, many that I personally hold. If I can comprehend that uncertainty is the norm and I must adapt to expect it, the obvious hard part is being prepared physically. And that’s the beauty of the paradox; we are all inconsistent sometimes all the time in regards to what we mentally accept and what we physically act out. So, while I can make a declaration that my generation is better prepared than former ones for uncertain times, it doesn’t make it true (though a compelling case can be made).

Am I ever going to get to the point, now? It seems like the boring middle part is over and now it is time for the explosive end, the clincher, the “aha” moment. But maybe I don’t have one. Maybe I’m still searching for how I can keep sane in this overcast town, maybe I am connecting why so many good writers move to such dreary places to be productive, maybe you’re just reading a therapy session for someone who doesn’t have any answers. Someone who doesn’t know anything, but has a lot of opinions. Someone who tends to keep quiet when something monumental happens until more evidence comes out and whose silence is mistaken for judgment and whispers are overshadowed by the howls of those more vocally extreme–the ones who write headlines that generate controversy and are adored by those content to follow. The one whose words are louder than their actions when they don’t know anything, either. The ones that those old folks look to for answers and instead of saying they don’t know they instead give advice that they can’t follow themselves. If anything, I’m striving to be genuine in an insincere world and am sometimes genuinely insincere. I wrote a poem about it, maybe I’ll post it sometime. Until next time, I’ll be trying to align my beliefs with my actions and trying to get comfortable with paradoxes because maybe someday, probably tomorrow, the sun will be back.

And I’ll be on solid ground again.

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Uncomfortable Thoughts on Dread Pirate Roberts

It’s no secret I love Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies. No, I am in love with them, and even view them as a way for younger generations to break free from crippling debt imposed on us. There has been so much benevolence from the Bitcoin community, and the currency has been used for everything from feeding the homeless to buying fertile chicken eggs to of course…drugs. I have no problem with anything that can be bought with Bitcoin or the notorious Silk Road. If anything, the Silk Road allowed for fairer prices and higher quality of whatever it was you were buying with efficient delivery and less casualties as opposed to going to the streets for drugs.

Now, I have to deviate from some of my fellow libertarian and anarchist friends over the recent detainment of alleged Silk Road kingpin Ross Ulbricht aka Dread Pirate Roberts. I want to make it clear that I in no way support caging anyone for victimless crimes nor do I support the state in its current form locking anyone up for any reason. But, and this is a serious but, supporting someone who may have ordered a hit on other people is unsettling to me.

At this point, there doesn’t seem to be solid evidence that shows people lost their lives at the behest of DPR. I am comfortable saying I truly don’t know if he had people killed or not, and am willing to change my position if new evidence arises. However, it is disturbing that people are holding such allegiances to an idol in the crypto-currency world without sufficient evidence to justify their positions.

It is possible DPR was set up, that no lives were lost, and that he was detained because he was competing with the drug trade in the US. I am willing to entertain that idea, and if true, DPR would have my full support.

What is not known, however, is if the assertions of his innocence in plotting murder are true. There are known knowns and known unknowns and at the moment what is known is that DPR has been detained, that he made some serious mistakes at covering his tracks, his Bitcoin wallet has been seized (though the FBI cannot access the roughly 600,000 BTC, lol), and that he is facing some severe charges that will likely land him in prison for a very long time.

What is unknown is if someone or multiple people were killed to protect the Silk Road, yet supporters are rationalizing his actions on the assumption that it is true he ordered people to be killed. Like I said, I could get on board with the possibility that he was set up and even that the person threatening to leak client information is a total scumbag; but if the allegations are true, I cannot conscionably stand behind someone who resorts to tactics used by mafia members and federal agencies to silence opposition to an operation.

Let’s for a minute assume the allegations are true and people have been killed.

The rationalizations behind supporting a murderer, in this case a hero to many in the community, are shoddy at best and must rely on utilitarian thinking; which is often anathema to people who argue in favor of a state free society. Supporters have made the point that DPR acted in the best interests of his clients, and that the actions prevented many more lives from being ruined; therefore, hiring a hit man to kill one person or a couple people was justified. This is all hypothetical, though, because there’s even a lack proof that the person threatened was able to expose Silk Road users.

There’s also the added problem of many Silk Road users being undercover agents, which certainly adds to the idea that it might have been a set up but in no way is provable yet. How can this argument be applied consistently without violating a person’s right to self-ownership? Statists are hounded all the time for using this same logic for coercive functions of the state like taxation, regulations, drug raids, etc. Why are anarchists adopting it to be a fitting defense of DPR?

Another common argument libertarians and anarchists make is that the agents of the state are subject to the same moral codes and have the same rights as civilians. If a cop kills someone, his badge shouldn’t grant him immunity from the consequences of his decision. In order for us to be philosophically consistent, we have to apply those same standards to those in our own community who break commonly accepted moral rules…you know, like killing someone. DPR doesn’t become a brave saint protecting his clients by killing off his enemies.

Plus, if you are involved in serious black market activity, you are dealing with a greater number of criminal elements, and should expect trouble. Facilitating drug deals is extremely dangerous and because of its black market status there is a ton of violence that is done against others; moving the activity to the internet doesn’t change this factor. Inb4 but teh drug war caused this! Acting like Don Corleone doesn’t make you worthy of support because you adopt a special label that identifies you as trustworthy within a community just like badges don’t grant special rights. As much as I distrust the “official” version of events when it comes from the state (and in this case I truly want them to be wrong), it is not unreasonable that DPR would have been involved in highly criminal activity to protect his empire. Common sense must play a role in this issue given the nature of the Silk Road.

The blind support of DPR is symptomatic of a greater problem in anarchist circles. Because someone identifies as “one of us” we assume they are good guys no matter if they accumulate extreme amounts of wealth and the trappings of power that we so frequently say are the cause of corruption among politicians and other agents of the state. What makes anarchists think that people who identify as anarchists would be any different than your average person? Adopting a label doesn’t make you magically more ethical and immune from the effects of rapid wealth and power accumulation.

This excusing of harmful behavior hasn’t just been applied to DPR, but many of the most vocal modern day proponents of anarchism. There are people who have stolen from each other, broken contracts and not paid people for the work they did, turned into narcs and got other activists imprisoned, and people have defended these individuals on faulty rationale that comes down to either claiming they were just a victim of the system, outright denial, or just brushing the accusations off because they have done “so much for the movement.”

If we can throw out the personal responsibilities people have who harm others because they claim membership in a special club, then there is no consistency in the philosophy or actions of anarchism. You can’t on one hand say people shouldn’t kill each other and then on the other say, “Well, except for fellow anarchists trying to protect their clients and drug profits.”

I don’t believe every supporter of DPR is blindly supporting him, and I really, really, really want to see proof that he did in fact not have people killed. There are so many intelligent people in the crypto-currency world, and if anyone can provide this evidence I will take an honest look at it. There’s no vested interest in me being right in this discussion because if the government is actually right about DPR’s actions then it has the potential to turn the public even more against the concept of crypto-currencies. It could undermine a lot of hard work others have done to prove the legitimacy of unconventional currencies.

But I don’t want to end on a negative note, so the good news is I think Bitcoin et.al. are here to stay despite the crackdown on Silk Road, and that even more sites like it will fill in the gap for people to gain safe access to beneficial medicines on the black market. DPR is one guy who let the power go to his head (sound familiar?) and while his situation is unfortunate, it appears to be of his own making. If you’re going to be breaking the law especially if you are making millions and competing with drug cartels in the federal government, then you better be really freaking careful. It is hilarious to me that the FBI still can’t access his Bitcoin, though. I’m not switching teams here or anything because DPR might be a murderer.

Thankfully, the future of crypto-currencies is bright and isn’t solely defined by what some people choose to purchase with them. Many vendors are still happy to accept them and many more will start. While I’m not a believer in the complete innocence of DPR, I am still enthusiastic about the future of alternative currencies. I’ll still accept them for my articles and hula hoops, even if this particular post isn’t likely to earn me any tips. We can separate the dubious actions of DPR from the life changing potential/actuality of Bitcoin regardless of the outcome of this situation, and it is an excellent learning opportunity for those who may hold others humans as sinless because of their philosophical identity.

 

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