Month: June 2015

Two Sides

I try to understand both sides of an issue. I’ve gotten criticism from my side for not being on that side enough. I’m not coming out with guns drawn and scathing words. I understand there are two sides to everything. If there wasn’t, it would be an issue.

It’s easy to find the other side because other thoughtful thinkers will point it out. Not in a way of OMG DID YOU SEE THIS MESS? or I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THIS! But in a simple way of hey, look at this other perspective that’s different from my own. That’s important. It’s necessary to see the other side and why they believe what they believe. Even if I find it repugnant. I need to know where they’re coming from or we’ll never hope to meet on a common ground.

The most recent debate about the Confederate flag finds itself at the middle of a controversy just like this. For context, I grew up surrounded by them. It was a way of life for me to see it on cars, flying in front of houses and in the community where I lived. I didn’t think much of it because it was my privilege not to have to worry about it.

But I understand its history and its message. Whether it be heritage or hate doesn’t matter. It’s a symbol closely associated with slavery. Just as the swastika was a pagan symbol before the Nazis used it. You don’t see many swastikas around anymore.

Federico Viticci made a similar point on Twitter.
We also have a heritage in Italy. It’s called fascism. We don’t celebrate it or miss it. Time to grow up for some Americans.

Heritage and history do not exist in a vacuum. They’re two sides to every history. The side that gives you pride in the South also reminds others of a terrifying, painful period in their lives. Where their great-grandparents were literally owned by your great-grandparents. That’s the heritage.

Just as there are two sides to everything, there are people in the South who want to make the argument to remove the flag of the United States of America because of what it represents.

I saw a group from the South arguing against the US Flag because of what the country has become. I’m paraphrasing but they wanted it removed because of the acceptance of homosexuality, the deteriorating morals of the US and the liberals ruining the country.

I don’t agree with them and their belief doesn’t change the history associated with the Confederacy but there’s always another side. A side I absolutely disagree with.

The Confederate Flag is coming down. It’s no longer for sale in Wal-Marts, Amazon or eBay. Virginia’s Governor has a plan to remove the licenses plates with it from the state.

It will eventually come down in South Carolina, but not until some more work is done. It’s not as simple as merely lowering the flag. The flag cannot be lowered, only removed. It can clearly be seen in photos. The mechanism to remove it is under lock and key.

It’s time to move on. There is a line that needs to be drawn between heritage and hate. You’re allowed to do whatever you like in your own house. You can fly a flag on your farm and in your home if that’s your desire. But it’s time to remove it from government. It’s time to take it off government buildings.

Those buildings are not just used by those who want to fly the flag. The public grounds are used by everyone. They’re used by white and black alike. They’re used by people from all walks of life and it’s time to take down this symbol of hatred and slavery.

The Nazis gave Germany the autobahn and rocketry, the swastika is not an acceptable symbol of heritage in Germany or anywhere else. Your heritage is not more important than the atrocity accompanying it. It’s unacceptable to continue to fly and use a symbol that hurt so many for so long. It’s over.

Hate begins at home

I don’t understand how to live a life so afraid. What’s so scary about “them” you have to take a gun into a place of worship and shoot people? How can you live a life so afraid of strangers you’re compelled to kill them? How is that going to help? Who are you helping?

Certainly not yourself. You’ll be caught and imprisoned. Or killed.
Certainly not the victims, their family or their community. You’ve managed to destroy all those.
Certainly not “society” at large or your cause. Whatever misguided cause you believe you’re helping by murder.

The question I want to ask the shooter is: What did you want out of this? What did you expect to happen? What was the point of all this?

I don’t understand why. I want to. I want to know how it could be that shooting people is OK.

I grew up in a small, rural, white town. I can count on one hand the number of black kids we had in our school. There were even fewer Hispanic kids and except for exchange students, no Asian kids either. I have seen where hate like this grows and flourishes. I believe it grows from ignorance. Never knowing another life. Never seeing other kinds of people. It’s easy to hate what you don’t understand and have never seen.

I knew people growing up who had never left the county they lived in. Many had never ventured out of Virginia. There is one family I know that had only ever been as far as Richmond, VA to the State Fair. They’d never been on a plane. Never gone to Washington, D.C. They never got out of the tiny bubble that made up their world.

They farmed. Sent their kids to school until high school graduation. Then back to the farm. College wasn’t a reality for many of the kids I grew up with. There was no value in an education past 12th grade. They went to school long enough to get a high school diploma. Then it was back to the farm. Back to their families. They grew up and married people they’d know their entire lives.

They never left.

This is not a unique story. This happens all over in small communities. I’ve met people with similar tales all over the place. When you’re living in a small community like that, you become the product of that environment. And if that environment is racism and hatred, then it’s what you become.

Maybe you don’t know better because you’ve never known any different. Maybe it’s the years of being told you’re doing so poorly in life because of them.

Them could be the blacks of the gays or Hispanics. They could even be other white people who went to college. They got an education and now make more money and have a better quality of life. They’ll have what you never will.

This does not excuse it. This is not an excuse for the violence and the murder and the death. This does not make it right. This does not make it OK. I do not condone the violence or hatred. But I understand it. These are very different things. I am not excusing it.

When you’re entire world view is us vs. them it’s easy to see where the hatred and violence take root. But to have any hope of closing the rift and addressing this problem, we need to know how it starts and where it comes from. Knowing how it starts and how it perpetuates itself is the first step in combating it and saving lives.

Patrick Rhone wrote a post today worth your time. It’s important to step back from reacting. There’s a root to everything. It doesn’t happen by accident.

patrickrhone / journal » Right Understanding

Ideas and beliefs do not form in a vacuum. They are usually the product of some perception or experience. Some of these may be the same as yours. Others may be vastly different. So different, in fact, that you immediately recoil from and reject them. Yet, these ideas likely formed from very similar places and likely for very similar reasons as yours. The opposite side simply arrived at a different conclusion.

On a Slower Life

We are very much products of where we’ve come from. My life is strongly colored by my upbringing. I grew up on a farm. I grew up around animals. I had trees and fields. I took bike rides and wrote in notebooks.

I did not have cable television. I did not have the Internet until later in my adolescence, and even then did not have broadband connectivity until college.

I grew up slower.

I wasn’t ignorant. I read voraciously. I wrote and thought. I shared my thoughts in that fledgling collection of wires and computers. I talked to classmates and spent hours on the phone with a friend talking to the wee hours of the morning.

I have no idea what we talked about. Important things™ to our teenage minds.

It was a slower life. A life of Sunday afternoon reading under the sunlight or playing baseball in the yard. A weekend of soccer games and ice cream. The long bike rides and long drives as I got older to enjoy the world surrounding me.

hammock on the farm

A world I took for granted as the young often do.

As I get older, I yearn to return to that slower life. I am not cut out for the city. I want to watch fields fill with firefly and lightening dance across the sky. I want the wind to blow over the uncut fields and hear the distant mooing.

I am not cut out for the city. I like my quiet far too much. I don’t understand references to most Nickelodeon shows or the piles of other children’s television my wife can recite from memory.

I had 6 channels. (Maybe 8 if the wind was right.)

I watched the Red Green Show and learned about the Handyman’s Secret Weapon. I spent a lot of time fighting with antennas to marginally improve a picture of a basketball game or The X-Files.

It was a slower life and as I ease into the middle of my third decade of life, it’s that slower life I miss.

(Photos taken Eric Holscher, my brother.)

Kung Fury

With the right computer algorithms I can hack you back in time. – HACKERMAN

Kung Fury is a fantastic 80s-flavored kung fu time travel dinoriffic flick! It’s fun and ridiculous and I really enjoyed it! If you enjoyed Ready Player One you’ll enjoy Kung Fury.

If you don’t, Barbariana will be very disappointed in you.

Kung Fury

Now that you’ve seen it, you may enjoy Defocused 49: I have complaints about hair where Joe and Dan review the film as only they can.

Who has my data?

There has been a lot of debate among nerds about the privacy and security implications of Google and Apple. How much is privacy worth? Is Google going too far? Is Apple protecting us? Does it even matter anymore?

For me, this is not a debate I care to take part in. My information is already out in the world. Target, Carefirst BlueCross Blueshield, Chick Fil-A, Adobe and most recently, the Federal Government have been breached.

Since the incident was identified, OPM has partnered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine the impact to Federal personnel.  And OPM immediately implemented additional security measures to protect the sensitive information it manages.

I have worked as a contractor for two separate US Government agencies. I haven’t heard if my information was one of the 4,000,000 people leaked in the hack on the Office of Personnel Management. But it would not surprise me if it was.

It feels like every week there is some other places letting my information out into the world. It’s no surprise after looking at this list of data breaches in 2015. These reports cover 103,340,565 records. That’s about 1 in 3 US Citizens that could have had their information leaked into the world.

I’m not interested in having a theoretical debate over my privacy and what Google or Apple are or are not going to do with my photos when my credit card, social security number and every other bit of identifying, personal information about me have or may have already been exposed. I’d be much more curious to see if active security scans are being done and if security people are on staff at places I trust my with you