Category Archives: Educational

The Fall of Rome and Modern Parallels

Did you enjoy your history classes in school?

I believe there is hardly anybody who will answer ‘yes’ to this question, and I believe this to be by design. People at the helm, the so-called ‘leaders’ are usually not the smart and productive ones. Otherwise they would not have to resort to plunder. So we can not expect them to be very creative in inventing new ways of cheating the productive part of the people out of the fruit of their labor.

They have to look at successful actions in the past. But as these actions are always doomed and not very long lasting it would be very bad for business if others would recognize their actions and see where they lead.

Thus history lessons have to be made so boring that nobody wants to even look at them. Trying to actively hide them would not work because a good mystery will always cause interest and that is definitely something that must be avoided.

Making it boring was therefore a very good move. If a noticeable number of people would be interested in history – even the rather recent one like that of the Hitler empire – they would see the plain parallels in today’s events.

Hitler for example used the word Vaterland (fatherland) and the emotionally charged word to rally the people behind his agenda. ‘Homeland’ feels pretty close to that. Both don’t have any real meaning as a farm in Maryland is as little my home, or fatherland as a farm in China. The current owners of both would kick me off if I were to go there and life there now. If something is not mine it is not mine independent of where it is.

But beside making the real history, one that tried to convey reasons behind events and not only the date, a mock-history is sold and promoted by Hollywood. This fake history causes people to believe that they know what went on and so there really no reason any more to do some actual research into cause and effect.

All these ideas are not new and all over the past the few who could look and see realized this reality. One such evidence is the essay “The Fall of Rome and Modern Parallels” by Lawrence W. Reed, the director of The Foundation for Economic Education. This was a talk given in 1979 and is read by Stefan Molyneux of Freedomain Radio.

Or see it directly on YouTube.

Random ‘Laws’

If we put ourselves on a quest to find real justice we cannot look for it in the current legal system as used under political power. Real justice has to be the same everywhere. If it is not then it is just random, arbitrary rules that should be seen as such and disregarded as much as possible, at least it should not be given any credence, and certainly not voluntarily complied with.
One such rule was encountered by a close friend many years ago when he used a small inheritance to buy an even smaller air plane. He had flown this plane at his local flight club as a rental and when sudden influx of money mysteriously coincided with this plane to come up for sale he took the plunge into plane ownership.
He got the money from the bank – in cash – and met the owner at his bank where the transaction was to be done. He paid the money, go the bill of sale and the deal was done. He did not know that he should have used an escrow service to make sure nothing went right – but no harm was done as nobody tried to cheat the other and it was smooth sailing.


Until a few month later he received, out of the blue, a letter from his states Franchise Tax Board demanding payment of some three thousand dollars as use tax. Use tax is the state’s way around the problem of a sale taking place when they cannot collect sales tax with the help of the seller.
Why would the FTB get any money for the sale of an airplane, my friend wondered. There was just no justification for that open hand because there was no service from the state whatsoever. My friend at that time did not know that the states – all politicians in fact – don’t need that at all. But mostly they keep up the appearances and pretend that they have to collect those taxes to maintain the roads, train our kids and protect us from the boogie man.
But all that was not the case for an airplane: airports are a federal matter – the FAA – taxes on aviation fuel was used to maintain those, no streets or installations of the state were used at all.
So, obviously, my friend tried to get out of the need to pay all that money for nothing. He found out quickly that the neighboring state did not collect sales or use tax. As he had not purchased the plane in his own name but in the name of a trust – turned out to be a good idea – he changed the address of that trust to Oregon and told the FTB to buzz off.
They did not give in so easily and wanted to see documentation showing that the plane had not been customarily be located in their state – they always come up with some interesting wording and rule so that they get their way, right? Faking that documentation was a lot cheaper than three thousand bucks, so my friend did that.
But, hey the government, being what it is, wiped all that off the table and said that they wanted the money anyways. Now the problem with tangible objects is that they can be stolen under the color of law. My friend did not want to take that risk and just sold the plane to another trust in another state without sales or use tax – Nevada. The FTB still tried to place a lien on the plane to get their share the next time the plane was sold, but they ultimately failed.
This is just a story of how somebody beat a random rule by using the fact that the rules are not uniform everywhere.
But what should be taken home from this story is the fact that it shows clearly that these rules are random, and that we have to treat them as such. Follow them as little as possible, make it as hard as possible for the perpetrator to enforce them – don’t comply voluntarily, but try not to be hurt by a brutal system that initiates force to get its way.
You wonder where the initiation of force is? Just play through the scenario, had my friend not complied. A lien would have been placed. When the tax would not have been paid for a longer time, the FTB would have foreclosed on their claim, confiscated the plane, sold it and taken whatever they claimed was theirs – without any court involvement. Had my friend tried to protect his property, cops would have come to arrest him and put him away. Had he resisted he would have been shot.
There is no niceness to be expected if you cross the government, make this very clear. So, you are playing with fire if you resist that suppression but we can be successful as some great members of this race have show – Gandhi comes to mind.

Independence Day and the Belief in Authority

I grew up in Germany after a time in history when the German people had had a very bad experience with patriotism.

The love for the Fatherland (not Homeland as it’s called in the US today) had been used to rally most of the German people to commit mass-murder and be mass-murdered. I was born when that experience was still very fresh and that means that I did not soak up any patriotism with my mother’s milk – just the opposite, patriotism was something to be despised. Especially when I was little, this was more a feeling than an intellectual understanding.

I never lost that gut-understanding and, coming to America, one of the most patriotic countries on this planet, did not change that a bit. This must be the reason that at this time of the year, with the independence day looming, my toenails start to curl up a bit in anticipation of all the flag waving and land-of-the-free singing.

Though it appears that I am not alone with this uneasy feeling confronted with the love for the fatherland.

Leo Tolstoy defines patriotism as the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers.

That actually, I have to admit, is a bit stronger that just the feeling of toenails curling up.

Gustave Herve, another anti-patriot, calls patriotism a superstition – one far more injurious, brutal, and inhumane than religion.

So, what is the problem here? A bigger part of the world’s population is patriotic, and what is wrong with loving one’s country? Don’t we all have fond memories of the house we grew up in, the neighborhood, the city? And should that not extend to the country? But why stop at the country border, should we not expand that out to the whole world, or, in a short time, after somebody finally invents the warp drive, the whole galaxy, the universe?

Maybe we will have to look a bit closer what this ‘country’ that many are so patriotic about, really is.

What happens at the border between two different countries?

One of the most guarded borders I know of is the one that, for so many years, existed between East and West Germany. I have crossed it several times and it was indeed the feeling of entering a different world. But the difference was not the language – German of one kind or the other on both sided. The land itself? No, because now, that this border is gone, you can cross that line without even noticing it any more. And it’s not culture either because these two Germanies had been one culture before they became two countries.

The only thing I can see, that was really different, was the group of rulers. On the Western side it was Konrad Adenauer and on the Eastern side it was Walter Ulbricht, each with his gang.

It now appears to me that the only difference between somebody named Franz in East Germany and somebody named Hans in West Germany was the ruler they considered themselves be a subject of.

Very similar to Jack in Oklahoma who claims to be a subject of Mr. Obama and Jim in Calgary who thinks he has to answer to M. Harper.

The display of patriotism here in the US of A, once the 4th of July roles in, if we really go down to the very basics, just means the pride to which dude that patriot is willing to give his money, life and children.

Let us look briefly at the ‘land of the free.’ That turns out to be a dud very quickly. If it were the land of the free, and I had decided that it is good and fair to give half of my money to somebody to do with it whatever he pleases and on top of that allow this person to take my children and train them into potential soldier for his cause, then I should be able to choose who what person would be, right? Could you just send your 50% taxes over to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (that’s the dude over in Iran, in case you don’t have the  current political scene at your direct disposal)? Or, to be a little bit less radical, send if over to Steven Harper?

See, the idea of the ‘land of the free’ is right out the window – we are subjects! – Just so well trained and indoctrinated that the very idea of being able to select the ruler to receive one’s contribution appears idiotic.

Now the question comes to bear if there is anything we can do to change this situation. First we have to investigate the idea of ‘being proud of’ something.

Can I really be proud of an accomplishment that is not mine? I had considered this question before when sitting in traffic. Unfailingly, once in a while you wait behind a ‘Proud Parent of Something or Another.’ Honor student, cheer-leader, etc. I had wondered on occasion what reason these parents have to be proud. I can understand that they are happy – but proud? Why? It’s something their children  have accomplished. Then again, maybe not, perhaps there was a father sitting in the car in front of me who had always, dutifully, done the homework for his son. But I actually don’t think that was the case, I don’t believe they would have advertised that on the back of their car. Same for being a proud American – proud of what accomplishment? Making lots of money so that it can be collected by the tax man to build bombs with, which are then thrown on people the proud American has never met and who he has no quarrel with?

Would that really be something to be proud of – if it was actually true?

Can you be proud of making somebody so jealous, I mean so badly jealous, that he starts to fly airplanes into some bankers buildings? Wouldn’t it be something to be much prouder of, that, after you really created so much wealth, you would reach out and help those in need to get to where you are, as well? Wouldn’t that be something to be proud of, to do deeds that other will actually love you for?

Acting like that would require clear and logical thinking, something that cannot be expected in the presence of emotionally charged propaganda. One of the most emotionally charged areas in our lives are our children – we do anything to protect them and give them a better life.

Thus the easiest way to get somebody blindly lined up behind a cause is the statement “it’s for the children!” And how do we protect our children best? Sending them to war to fight for freedom – that is the true spirit of patriotism.

Yes, I am well aware that this does not make any sense. How about you?

Now we might make the mistake to blame those people who spread this propaganda and who manipulate in order to gain power. That would be the wrong target for our indignation. The correct target is the one looking at you back from the mirror when you brush your teeth.

There are always people around that want to cheat, who want to get something without actually creating a value that can be traded. They are easy to handle. You might fall for their schemes once or twice, but then you understand and you just don’t deal with them. If they don’t find new victims they will just wither ways and the gene pool got a little bit better. The problem is our conviction that there is any legitimacy to their action, even if their random rules are called ‘law’.

That these ‘laws’ are utterly random, without any basis in logic, becomes clear when you ask yourself why it is OK to smoke one kind of leaves, while you go to jail if you smoke another kind. I know, it is all there to ‘protect our children.’ But we already know where that comes from.

Breaking any of these so-called laws will expose you to a possible punishment, and following those laws to avoid the penalty makes sense.

But there is a different, much more sinister, element to our obedience to the ‘law’ beside the avoidance of punishment.

Imagine you are driving out in the countryside at three in the morning. Full moon, you can see far and wide and there really is not a soul around. Suddenly, totally out of place, there is a traffic light, and, as most, if not all, traffic lights do, it shows you a red light for you to stop.

Now, imagine further that you stop at that light and it is one of those lights that never seem to turn green. Finally, as there really is nobody within miles, neither a civilian, nor a cop, you decide to go and break the ‘law.’

How do you feel about that?

If you don’t have the slightest murmur of guilt, then there is hope for you. But, chances are, you feel that you have done something bad because you broke the ‘law.’ What you feel there is the conditioning of submitting to authorities. The mysterious quality that transforms mere mortals to god-like creatures.

I know, I exaggerate a bit here, but I want to make the point, that many of us carry the grain of belief in authority itself. The conviction that something like authority does exist, that there is something that makes it OK for one person to tell another what to do.

But this belief is total and utter superstition.

Let us, for the moment, take that good old document, this country was based upon, even though we are not using it any more. One of the premises of that parchment is that ‘all men are created equal.’

Unlike many other cultures that evolved from monarchies, this country was built on the foundation that there are no different classes that would privilege some of the members. That was the theory, but unfortunately reality sometimes does not ‘get’ it. There were just too many immigrants that had such a deeply ingrained belief that there are people better than them, that this parchment did nothing in preventing those people to create their superiors  again.

They were totally free not to do this, but they did it anyways. Fighting an authority is not the same as a complete conviction that it does not exist. The opposite actually – you can only fight something that you believe exist.

Once we succeed in a basic change of mind about this, there will be no need any more to fight city hall – city hall will just wither away. In the process there will be some collateral damage, but this will be so minor in comparison to the continued permission to city hall to do with us what it wants.

So, your homework for this glorious Forth-of-July weekend is to understand – and I mean a gut-understanding – that authority itself as a phenomenon, does not exist. Except in our mind!

If you give somebody the permission to tell you what you have to do and think, he will certainly take that offer. Many might not, but there are plenty of the politician/lawyer type of people around that will take your offer with a grateful nod of their head and then get out the whip and whip you into shape.

Just be aware that you can withdraw that permission at any time. It will be a bit harder than had you never given it in the first place, but it is definitely possible.

Anarchy is Old

Discovering and developing the anarchist mindset over the last few years, all these ideas seem to be new and novel to me.

Yet, while researching the history of the concept of voluntary interaction instead of force, I am finding that the ideas I encountered first through modern anarchists like Larken Rose or Stefan Molyneux are not really new, but that these people stand on the shoulders of others that have carried the torch of personal liberty before them.

Just as for me personally the ideas become clearer and more obvious with the time I am exposed to them, so the ideas themselves have become clearer and self-evident through the attention they get from thinkers and philosophers through history, and will, most likely, continue to develop.

Today I watched a video made in the 80s that I want to share here…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwnZYY-CDXo

It helped me find another resource that I will now research further – Emma Goldman. Thanks to the internet and mp3 I can now fill my time in the car with the study of a very early anarchist.

Another proponent of the idea of personal liberty who I am still wrapping my mind around, is Richard J. Maybury. (Thank you, Nicole, for introducing me!) He does not call himself an anarchist, even though, judging by his ideas, he probably is one, or at least close to one. It would be hard for me to understand why, if one understands the inherent dangers of governmental powers, one then would continue to support it, even on a very limited level. If rape is bad, then you want to get rid of it and don’t keep a little bit of it, just in case there is a psycho who needs to let off some steam.

So, Richard, I call you as an anarchist, even though it would be nice to have a word for the proponent of a stateless society that is not also a synonym for the initiator of chaos and mayhem. This brings up a point that is also made in the movie above: using the concept (and word) of patriotism as support for one’s country as well as its government, while in fact the two are very different things.

I can certainly love my country and everything it is – thus being patriotic – without also supporting those people who are claiming it – unjustified, I might add – as theirs, including all the workforce in it. Thinking of it, I believe that, in order to be patriotic, I would have to do everything possible to rid a country claiming to be free, of the elements that try to enslave the people living in it.

But back to Richard Maybury. I just finished his book Whatever Happened to Justice, in which he explains the difference between natural (common) law and political law.

One little tidbit jogged my mind.  It is an example for the fact that under natural law all people are treated equally, including government officials. I want to quote this here:

The Criminal Justice Museum in Rothenburg, Germany, has a copy of the Sachsenspiegel, the common law of the Saxons, which was used as a top law-book from 1220 until 1900. It explained how to bring suit, inheritances, property rights, guardianships, and so on. So that illiterate persons could read and understand, each law was illustrated with a picture.

Exhibits in the museum show that German law was especially hard on government officials who were caught committing fraud. In Augsburg, Germany, if the head of the government mint were caught debasing and inflating the coinage, the penalty was loss of a hand. If his inflation amounted to more than 60 pfennigs ( 4.8 ounces of silver, about $25 in today’s money) he was burned at the stake.

Consider this in light of our current situation where politicians print money as if there is no tomorrow, thus debasing and inflating our money. I wonder how many of our “elected officials” would run around without hands and char-coaled.

Google Chrome – Profiles, User-Data and Users

I have to admit that I am a collector of Google accounts.

Never really intended for it to become so excessive – it just happened. Most of the incoming mail still goes into my central Thunderbird mail hub but there is the need to log into some of these accounts directly, at least once in a while.

Google Chrome has been my tool for this as it had this nice command line parameter allowing me to define the location where it stored all it’s data. Thus I created a number of copies of my default data storage at

C:\Users\mememe\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data

as

C:\usr\browser\chrome000
C:\usr\browser\chrome001
C:\usr\browser\chrome002
C:\usr\browser\chrome003

and created shortcuts to different instances of Chrome with targets like

%chromepath%\chrome.exe --user-data-dir="C:\usr\browser\chrome000"
%chromepath%\chrome.exe --user-data-dir="C:\usr\browser\chrome001"
%chromepath%\chrome.exe --user-data-dir="C:\usr\browser\chrome002"
%chromepath%\chrome.exe --user-data-dir="C:\usr\browser\chrome003"

and logged into each of them with a different Google account. This way I had direct access to all of my accounts with all their associated features (like Analytics, or Adwords, etc) without the need to go through logging off one and logging in to the other.

Today then it became obvious that I had to uninstall Chrome. Not necessarily because I did not like it any more, but there were just too many little bugs that had crept in that a possible re-install could not fix. For example LassPass did not show up right, and Google Maps – of all Google application – had rather nasty rendering problems.

So, I bit the bullet, uninstalled Chrome and even ran the manual uninstall of Chrome to make sure I got rid of all remains.

Then came the re-install and in the process of setting up all these old profiles (actually more than profiles, as I found out) I learned that Google, in the meantime, had developed something that actually could make this whole process of accessing a multitude of Google accounts easier – ‘Users’ within one data storage like contained in the folder

...\Google\Chrome\User Data.

Under this directory you always had a folder ‘Default’ which contained all the data for a user. Now you could add a user in the Chrome settings page and log into a different Google account as that user. The user interface for this feature is cute but very usable:

If there is only one user within one Chrome data set (–user-data-dir), the top left corner of Chrome looks like

But when there is more than one, a selectable icon appears to the left of the tab bar and it looks like

Now you can click on the little ninja and select from a pop-down menu a different user

There is another command line parameter to chrome which now allows to create shortcuts for the different users within one data set:

%chromepath%\chrome.exe --profile-directory="Default"
%chromepath%\chrome.exe --profile-directory="Profile 1"

so that you don’t depend on the GUI interface to the different profiles. The names as given above are selected by chrome when you add users, but it appears you actually have control over the naming of these profiles. During my testing I found out that if I use the above command line with a non-existing profile name, this profile will be created on first start. Creating a shortcut with the following target (all in one line, obviously)

 %chromepath%\chrome.exe
       --user-data-dir="C:\usr\browser\chrome000"
       --profile-directory="Heinrich

created the profile ‘Heinrich’ which I could then use to log into yet another Google account. And on this command line you see that these two command line parameters can be combined to have different users within different Chrome data sets.

Good Public School

After avoiding public school for my son for many years, he is now demanding to attend high school in a ‘real’ school – – as if home schooling is not real!

I certainly will not oppose this, because it is his decision to experience it, but I am allowed to feel reluctant that this is the right course to go.

After seeing the following TED talk by a public school teacher my reluctance has diminished and made way for the feeling that you can actually find good teachers anywhere…

Rammstein – The Next Generation

The music of the German band Rammstein is not – I have to admit – one of my favorite types of music. I might just be too old for that, even though some of the comic elements in their art is appealing to me. Maybe it’s just that the mood in their songs is just too dark for me or maybe simply that I don’t want to jeopardize the good hearing I still have.  – – Boy, do I sound like my parents when I started to listen to the Beatles or the Stones!

I case you don’t know what I talk about, here is an example…

Now, what made me talk about Rammstein is not Rammstein themselves but the fans – and not just any fans, but those fans that are very young and active. So active in fact that they not only listen to their music, but also play it themselves…

I just wonder if the kids understand what they sing, but as they are home schooled, they probably do.

Google, the new McDonald – Responsible for Many Big Butts

Stumbling over the new Google Maps ‘MapsGL’ feature I was sent around the planet. First I went to the Westminster Abbey in England to check out – no, not Westminster Abbey, but – how 3D buildings look in the new Google maps.

After that I went to Rome, Italy to look at the Colosseum, first from the satellite view and then I admired Google’s switching over to a 45 degree view when zooming in.

OK, that’s what Google wanted me to do, but I am not the person to just follow what somebody tells me to – I want to explore! So, I tried Stonehenge, England. No 3D building or 45 degree views there but I was still amazed that this little spot on our planet gets so much attention from all over the world.

As I had never been to Stonehenge I now wanted to try a spot that I knew from a personal encounter to compare notes. The first that came to mind was the monastery of Montserrat in Spain, close to Barcelona. After just a minute with the help from my friends at Google I was there:

Click to go to the Google Local Page

That sure brought back memories. I had been there twice, once during a long stay in Spain with two buddies, and once later with a date. The interesting bit about the second visit was that then and there I decided to not do vacations any more. That was some thirty years ago and I have pretty much kept that promise to myself. Did not really miss anything, but made up for it by doing things a bit more radical. For example, instead of vacationing in California, I just moved there.

But when visiting there virtually after so many years I also realized how easy that trip had become – just a few mouse clicks and I was half around the world. When I was there the first times, I first had to get my body into Spain, then driving up that winding road, buying a ticket for the aerial tram and getting up to that summit.

Sure was good exercise and I was slim and trim (not that I am fat now!) But now makes me wonder how many big butts Google might be responsible for by just getting people to places virtually.

Google could be the next McDonald!

Being an American depends on the little word WE

Interesting video that explains how using the little word ‘we’ instead of ‘us’ and ‘they’ has made it possible that one whole country can see itself as enemy of another, when most persons in either country would get along  just beautifully with any other person in the other country.

So, next time you notice a crook trying to make you an accomplice to his crimes by speaking of you and him as ‘we’ – be weary! I mean, if you get half of the loot, that might be OK, but if you are also the victim, it might be prudent to look if the little word ‘we’ is indeed correctly applied.